Cut the Crap & Add the Zap

{February 25, 2007}   The Benefits of Adding Flaxseed to Your Diet

What is flaxseed? Flax seed is a pretty amazing food from a health perspective – flaxseed is a plant food that is packed with fiber, protein, and Omega 3 oil. It is reported to help in overall health and specifically in weight reduction.

Why do I add 1-2 TBSP of ground flaxseed to my diet every day? Well, to be honest, the main reason is that I don’t really like fish. I personally think the best way to get nutrients is by eating whole and organic foods, but I just don’t like fish. While you can get fiber and protein from many other sources, Omega 3 is more difficult to come by in foods that I like. Flaxseed has so many things that are good for me, and I like it mixed in with my oatmeal, that it has become a simple addition to my diet.  The site at flaxusa provides many details about the benefits of flaxseed and they sell flaxseed online (I bought mine in the supermarket but it was just recently available at my supermarket so you may have to buy online). There are many sites about flaxseed but I included flaxusa because I liked their site and the fact that they are a family farm that promotes whole food nutrition. Here are some of the highlights:

“What researchers have discovered through intense studies is that the high concentration of fiber and lignans in flax seeds may have a preventative effect against certain cancers.”

“Flax seeds can keep the digestive tract active and moving, which means that toxins do not sit in the lower intestine longer than they should. Scientists believe that incorporating flax seeds and flax seed oil into the diet may minimize a person’s risk of developing colon cancer.”

“The lignans found in flax seeds are also referred to as phytoestrogens. These lignans bind to estrogen receptors in the body and therefore may help reduce hormonally induced cancers such as breast, ovarian, prostate, and uterine cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research has stated that flax seeds contain “75-800 times more lignans than that of 66 other plants.””

“The high fiber, Omega 3, and lignans in flax seeds are natural defense mechanisms against high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Thus, taking just a quarter cup of ground flax seeds each day may help you decrease the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, while maintaining or increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood.”

“In addition, the Omega-3 fatty acids found in high amounts in flax seeds can substantially reduce insulin resistance in people with diabetes. This is important because when insulin levels are controlled, you do not feel the overwhelming urge to overeat or give in to cravings.”

“The Omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds are key to cleaning out the blood vessels in the body and supporting optimal joint health.”

How to add flaxseed to your diet? The best way would be to buy whole flaxseeds and to grind them in a coffee grinder once a week or so and store in a tight tupperware container. If you are very busy like me, then you can buy pre-ground flaxseed. However, once you open the package, you do need to store it in an airtight container and my understanding is that it only lasts a month or so. I don’t know what brand I buy because I already threw the box away when I transferred it to a container – but at my supermarket there was only one choice of ground flaxseed. Alternatively, you can also buy flaxseed oil at a healthfood store or vitamin store and again store it for short periods in your refridgerator. I personally don’t like the oil so I use the ground flaxseed. Ground flaxseed is slightly crunchy and nutty – the closest thing I can compare it to is adding ground wheatgerm although the ground flaxseed is a bit more coarse (at least the storebought kind).

How I use ground flaxseed:

  • Add 1 TBSP of ground flaxseed to my oatmeal (I met with a nutritionist who recommended that I put 2 TBSP in my oatmeal, but I personally found that while 1 TBSP was tolerable and didn’t affect the taste and texture of my oatmeal that much, 2 TBSP on the other hand was too grainy and made my oatmeal taste funny. By the way, I only eat old-fashioned oats (not the quick kind), and I’ll try to write about why oatmeal is so good for you in another post.
  • Add 1 TBSP of ground flaxseed to any sauce or dressing or sprinkling on top of a salad (I think adding to a dressing is better because sprinkling on top can result in ending up on the bottom of the salad and not in your body).

There is an article here that compares flaxseed to flaxseed oil and recommends flaxseed because it provides the added benefit of fiber. Always remember to grind the flaxseeds or buy ground flaxseeds, whole flaxseed will not be absorbed by your body and you won’t get the health benefits.

The interesting thing, however, is that I was unable to find specific studies that show the claimed benefits above. I believe, however, that flaxseed includes ingredients/nutrients that are shown in studies to provide the results, i.e. omega 3 studies, fiber, etc. I do believe that since this is a plantfood and it has the ingredients and I like it ground in my cereal that this is a very good way for me personally to get these nutrients. Let me know if you have any more information on flaxseed or other sources of Omega 3 and your personal experiences with it – like/dislike etc.


caroline says:

in order to get the benefits of cancer protection, especially breast you need 4 tablespoons.

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