Flax seeds have long been prized for their nutrition and health benefits, and in more recent times, have been seen as a super food with a lot of research to support this. So what is flax seed? There are two types of flax seed, brown and golden, which are both equally nutritious.
Just one tablespoon provides a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals—including vitamin B1, vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium.
Though it is rich in many nutrients, flax seeds’ health benefits are priomarily attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and fiber they contain.
Flax Seeds Are a Great Source of ALA
Flax seeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a mostly plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is one of the two essential fatty acids that you have to obtain from the food you eat, as your body doesn't produce them. Animal studies have shown that the ALA in flax seeds prevented cholesterol from being deposited in the blood vessels of the heart, reduced inflammation in the arteries and reduced tumor growth.
A Costa Rican study involving 3,638 people found that those who ate more ALA had a lower risk of heart attack than those who consumed less ALA. Also, a large review of 27 studies involving more than 250,000 people found that ALA was linked to a 14% lower risk of heart disease. Numerous studies have also linked ALA to a lower risk of stroke.
Furthermore, a recent review of observational data concluded that ALA had heart health benefits comparable to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two of the more well-known omega-3 fats.
It's worth noting that flaxseed oil contains more ALA than flax seeds. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds contains 1.6 grams, while one tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 7 grams.
Flax Seeds are A a Rich Source of Lignans
Flax seeds are also a rich source of lignans, which may reduce cancer risk. Lignans are plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogen properties, both of which can help lower the risk of cancer and improve health.
Surprisingly, flax seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Observational studies show that those who eat flax seeds have a lower risk of breast cancer, particularly postmenopausal women
Flax Seeds Contains Plenty of Dietary Fiber
What's more, flax seeds contain two types of dietary fiber — soluble (20–40%) and insoluble (60–80%). This fiber duo gets fermented by the bacteria in the large bowel, bulks up stools and results in more regular bowel movements. Soluble fiber increases the consistency of the contents of your intestine and slows down your digestion rate, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol, while insoluble fiber allows more water to bind to the stools, increases their bulk and results in softer stools, which is useful for preventing constipation and for those who have irritable bowel syndrome or diverticular disease.
Flax Seeds Are High in Protein
Another great benefit of flax seeds is that they are a great source of plant-based protein, rich in the amino acids arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. Numerous lab and animal studies have shown that flaxseed protein helped improve immune function, lowered cholesterol, prevented tumors and had anti-fungal properties.
Whatever diet you follow, flax seeds are a great source of many important nutrients. Though small in size, they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, lignans and fiber, all of which have been shown to have many potential health benefits. They are also a great plant-based source of protein, containing several important amino acids. Being As one of the oldest agricultural crops used for centuries, and with the many proven health benefits of , flax seeds, they are a safe and healthy addition to any diet.