9 Unique Health Benefits of Flax Seeds
Support your digestive health, skin, heart, and more with delicious & nutritious flax seeds…
If you’re familiar with flax seeds, you probably think of them mostly as a good source of fiber. But in fact, flax has a number of beneficial properties besides just helping keep things moving! Flaxseed has also been used to help maintain hormonal balance, improve skin, bone, and heart health, reduce inflammation, and more.
Humans have been using flax for centuries. In fact, some records show flaxseed being cultivated and used as early as 8,000 BC. Besides the seed being used as food for people and livestock, the plant’s fibers have also long been used in textiles and other applications. And the oil has also been used for many purposes:
Flaxseed, also called linseed, is the source of linseed oil. In its pure form, this oil can be consumed as a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids. In its refined forms, boiled linseed oil and polymerized linseed oil, it cannot be consumed. These oils are used in paints, and to protect wood and metal.
But some of the most interesting uses of flax are rooted in its medicinal properties. Here are 9 of the most important health benefits of flax seeds, according to TheGrowNetwork.com:
- Omega-3 Powerhouse: Flax is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, supporting a healthy body and immune system.8)9) Flaxseed oil has more omega-3s than most fish oils.10)
- Cancer Fighter: Flax helps to reduce your likelihood of several hormone-based cancers, such as breast, ovarian, uterine, endometrial, cervical, and prostate.11)
- Bulk Laxative: Flax is a gentle laxative. It supports colon detoxification and is helpful for diverticular disease.12)
- Digestive Calmer: Flax’s mucilage content is anti-inflammatory and calms digestive irritation. It can even help to relieve symptoms of IBS and colitis.13)
- Chest Soother: Use a flaxseed and onion poultice to relieve lung conditions.14)
- Heart Health: Flaxseed can help to lower cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.15)16)
- Anti-Inflammatory: Eat flaxseed to lower inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease.17)18)
- Loaded With Lignans: Flax is the richest-known plant source of lignans.19) Lignans help to balance hormones, protect bone density, protect against type 2 diabetes, and protect against harmful forms of estrogen.20)21)
- Friend to Gut Flora: Encourage a healthy gut microbiome with flaxseed.22)
While flax is generally quite safe, you should be aware that it is very high in fiber, and excessive consumption may cause loose stools, gas, and/or bloating. Most people can safely tolerate up to 4 tablespoons per day. Start with 1 TB if you are not used to consuming flax, and gradually increase the amount if desired, until you reach your level of tolerance, then back down just a bit. Flaxseed may also interfere with blood sugar-regulating medicines, and also has a blood-thinning effect and should not be taken with NSAIDs.
When consuming flax seeds, you should avoid cooking them at high temperatures (above 225°F or 107.22°C), which will diminish flavor and health benefits alike. Whole flax seeds are not easily digested, so you should briefly pulse the seeds in a blender or food processor before eating. Only grind as much as you need at once, as they don’t keep well once ground.
There are lots of ways to enjoy flax seeds, which have a mild, nutty flavor. You can add ground seeds to smoothies, yogurt, bread, cookies, or granola. They can also be sprinkled on salads or as a topping for stir-fries or other dishes, or used to thicken soups or salad dressings.
Add this nutritional powerhouse to your diet and reap the benefits!