To date my posts for 2019 have been diverse – from cancer to leafy greens to dark chocolate to the power of nature – I’ve certainly kept you guessing. So moving forward I have decided to give a little more direction to the information journey. I would like to progressively build my list of the most valuable foods and why it is so important that we eat them each day.
For those who know me well it is not surprising that I am starting with a member of the amazing ‘seed’ family – FLAXSEEDS!
Flaxseeds contain three major therapeutic elements:
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
2. Soluble Fibre
It should be noted that they also contain protein carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals. Basically everything a little plant needs to become a big plant!
It is from these attributes that flaxseed’s amazing benefits are derived. The following are just a few that are likely to make you want to incorporate them into your diet.
1. MAY LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Multiple studies have shown that consuming 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds each day for more than 12 weeks will provide a powerful blood pressure lowering effect. Specifically, comparing flaxseeds and 2 of the most common anti-hypertensive drugs prescribed over a 6 month period showed the following:
- Calcium Channel Blockers – Reduced Systolic BP by 8 units and Diastolic BP by 3 units
- ACE Inhibitors – Reduced Systolic BP by 5 units and Diastolic BP by 2 units
- Flaxseeds – Reduced Systolic BP by 15 units and Diastolic BP by 8 units
In short, Flaxseeds provide 2-3 times the effect of the drugs without the side effects.
2. MAY PROTECT AGAINST CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
Given that inflammation is a major driver of heart disease and flaxseeds are anti-inflammatory, it is not surprising that your heart and blood vessels love flaxseeds. Evidence of their effect can be seen via lowered inflammatory markers and reduced total cholesterol and LDL levels.
In simple terms, with lowered inflammation there is a decreased need for the body to send cholesterol to repair any damage of the heart and blood vessels.
3. MAY REDUCE CANCER RISK
Famous German biochemist Dr Johanna Budwig developed an anti-cancer protocol incorporating flaxseeds in the 1950s. After observing the difference in fatty acid profiles between healthy and unhealthy individuals she found that improving such profiles improved cancer patient outcomes. Although her protocol has not been scientifically validated, it is interesting to note that multiple papers have shown that the regular consumption of flaxseeds equates to significant decrease in breast and prostate cancer occurrence.
Researchers have identified the lignans within flaxseeds as the key protective nutrient. Flaxseeds have 800 times more lignans than their nearest dietary rival!
4. MAY HELP REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR
A number of studies have shown up to 20% reduction in blood sugar status after the incorporation of flaxseeds. This could be due to a number of reasons:
- The high fibre content of flaxseeds creates a low GI effect which will see sugars travel at a slower rate into the blood stream and therefore, take pressure off the blood sugar regulation mechanisms.
- Flaxseeds contain many of the glucose tolerant factors which are the nutrients that ensure insulin sensitivity. This means that insulin will be more effective in moving sugars from the blood into the cells
5. MAY IMPROVE BOWEL HEALTH
Flaxseeds have been shown to improve constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal wind and abdominal bloating. It appears that the mechanism here is primarily provided by fibre. This not only bulks up the bowel, thus stimulating the smooth muscle of the bowel, but also feed the microbiome, the trillions of bugs that live in the gastrointestinal tract which are now seen as the most influential entity in human health potential.
I could go on and on about the benefits of flaxseeds but I think I’ll just let their latin name Linum usitatissimum which means “the most useful” be the last word.
P.S. Milling the flaxseeds and keeping them in the fridge in a sealed, light proof container is the best way to consume them. Otherwise just chew the seeds thoroughly and aim to consume about a tablespoon per day! Have fun!
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