Some doctors consider flaxseed to be one of the healthiest plant foods on the planet, and for good reason. Essentially, flaxseed is so healthy because it contains three key ingredients: omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans. Early research indicates that these three ingredients make flaxseed a possible “wonder food.”
Vitamins in Flaxseed
Flaxseeds are a rich source of a number of vitamins and minerals. Flaxseeds contain vitamins B1, B2, C, E and carotene. In addition, flaxseeds are a good source of zinc, iron and trace amounts of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. While flaxseeds provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals, its health benefits are vast and many people consume flaxseeds for other health benefits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to your body because they fight inflammation. This means omega-3 fatty acids fight many chronic diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, some forms of cancer and asthma. Flaxseed is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains nearly 2 g of omega-3s. Most oils, like soy and corn oil, contain omega-6 fatty acids instead of omega-3. Since soy and corn oil are such common ingredients in the standard American diet, most people over consume omega-6 without getting enough omega-3. The key to fighting inflammation in your body is to equalize your ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 intake, and flaxseed consumption is one of the best ways to do so.
Flaxseed contains the largest percentage of soluble and insoluble fiber of any plant food. The fiber in flaxseed works to lower cholesterol, move food through the intestines and stabilize blood sugar. Fiber is also a healthy food because it helps to control your appetite. If you eat enough fiber, you will feel more satisfied and you won’t feel as strong of an urge to over consume food.
Flaxseed Fights Cancer
Some studies have shown that flaxseed might fight breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon facer. In animals, scientists with the Flax Council of Canada found that plant omega-3s found in flaxseed lowered the occurrence of tumors and tumor growth. In addition, flaxseeds’ lignans might also fight cancer. Lignans flush excess estrogen out of your body, which means you’ll be less likely to develop breast cancer or other estrogen-related cancers. Lignans block enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and prevent tumor cells from growing in the place. The study found a relationship between lignin consumption during adolescence and a lower rate of breast cancer later in life. Lignans also seem to have antibacterial and antiviral properties in addition to fighting cancer.
If you’d like to add flaxseeds to your diet, remember to grind the flaxseeds before consuming them. If you don’t, then the flaxseeds will simply pass through your digestive system and your body won’t absorb any of the nutrients. Also, if you opt for flaxseed oil instead of ground whole flaxseeds, your body won’t get the fiber or many of the antioxidants found in flaxseeds.