Also known as linseeds, flax seeds come from flax, one of the oldest fiber crops in the world. Originally cultivated in China and Egypt, these little brown seeds are known for their health benefits since long. It’s said that Charlemagne, king of the Franks during the 8th century, believed so strongly in them that he demanded his loyal subjects eat flax seeds.
Flax seeds are a good source of healthy fat, antioxidants, micronutrients and dietary fiber. Continued research shows that these seeds provide umpteen health benefits and can help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Low in “bad” cholesterol, they aid in digestion, prevent constipation and help in suppressing hunger.
Experts suggest that flax seeds should either be bought in ground form or ground before consumption. Eating them whole may often not provide you with their health benefits as the seeds sometimes pass through the digestive tract undigested. A tablespoon of flax seeds a day is enough to meet your essential daily nutritional requirement.
We give you five reasons to make flax seeds a part of your daily diet.
They help reduce hypertension
Flax seeds are more effective at lowering blood pressure than any other food. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80. In a six-month study of individuals with elevated blood pressure, the systolic blood pressure (SBP) was reduced by 10 mmHg after they started consuming flax seed oil. In this same study, the diastolic pressure (DBP) was reduced by 7 mmHg. Adding flax seed oil to your diet may bring down your blood pressure levels naturally.
They can help manage diabetes
World Health Organisation researchers have published an open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder supplementation in the management of diabetes. Flax seed consumption may improve insulin sensitivity in glucose-intolerant people. Evidence also suggests that consuming flax seed every day can improve glycemic control in obese men and women with pre-diabetes.
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They can help prevent inflammation
Two tablespoons of ground flax seed contain more than 140 percent of the daily value of inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids and more lignans, a cancer-fighting plant chemical, than any other plant food on the planet. This may help avert heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and slow the growth of tumour cells.
They work wonders for women’s health
The presence of lignans, plant chemicals that help fight cancer, helps battle high levels of oestrogen and maintains balanced hormonal levels. Regular consumption of flax seeds can help reduce menopausal symptoms such as flushing and night sweats. Women who suffer from irregular periods and/or extreme symptoms of PMS can also benefit. Research shows they may prove useful in controlling heavy bleeding during menstruation, reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve uterine function. Since they correct hormonal imbalance, they are likely to promote healthy hair and skin.
They can help deal with depression
The stress of modern life has led to a rise in cases of depression. Doctors may provide antidepressants but research shows that adding flax seed to the diet can help. A Japanese study found that patients with significant depression had low levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids, which are found in foods such as fish, walnuts and flax. Consuming these foods can help correct those imbalances and help with depression.
How can you consume flax seeds? Add them to cereal, soups, yogurt, French toast, cookies, smoothies – anything for a little extra crunch.
Keen to know more about which seeds you should include in your diet? Let our nutritionists guide you