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Flax seeds (Alsi): Research-Backed Health Benefits

By Dr Prachi Garg +2 more

As scientific research expands its area of interest, many food items are coming into the limelight. Flaxseeds are one such item. Considered a ‘superfood,’ they have been prized for their amazing health benefits for centuries. So much so that their scientific name, Linum Usitatissimum, means ‘the most useful Linum.’

The flax plant (also known as Linum usitatissimum) grows to reach about 2 feet tall and produces flaxseed. It was most likely first planted in Egypt, although it is now grown all over the world.

health benefits of flax seeds

Flaxseed Nutritional Facts:

Flaxseeds contain a good amount of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Flaxseeds also contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids ( mostly ALA- Alpha-Linolenic Acid).

Did You Know 

Health Benefits of Flaxseed Are:

  • Good for our Digestive System:

Flaxseeds are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. Insoluble fibre absorbs a lot of water and increases the bulk of faeces. This maintains regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. They are very useful for people suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[1]

Soluble fibre slows our digestion and reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels.[2] This reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases and is helpful for people with Diabetes Mellitus.

  • Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular (Heart) Diseases:

Flaxseeds – a simple ingredient to support your brain health. Flaxseeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining healthy brain function. Consuming flaxseeds may improve cognitive function, memory and overall brain health.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), the Omega-3 fatty acid present in high quantities in flaxseeds, prevents the deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels of the heart. It is also effective in reducing inflammation in the arteries.[3]

Soluble fibre and proteins in Flaxseeds are also responsible for the reduction of cholesterol levels in our blood. Flaxseed consumption is also known to reduce blood pressure.[4]

Read More: 6  Natural Ways to Reduce Cholesterol

  • Reduces Risk of Cancer:

Plant compound, Lignans are present in Flaxseeds. As per research, Lignans were found to be effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.[5]

Did you know that flaxseeds may help stop excessive bone turnover, which may increase your bone density over time? That’s right – these tiny seeds are packed with nutrients that are essential for bone health, including magnesium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Smita Barode, BAMS

Flaxseeds also contain Omega-3 fatty acids  and proteins in high amounts. These proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids were found to prevent the development of tumours, further reducing any risk of cancer.

  • Improves Blood Sugar Levels:

The soluble fibre in flaxseeds improves blood sugar levels by slowing down digestion. Thus, it helps in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Read More: 4 Foods that Are Good for Diabetics

  • Immune System Booster:

Proteins in flaxseeds contain amino acids like Arginine, Aspartic acid and Glutamic acid. These amino acids were found to protect our body from a variety of fungal Infections, thus improving our overall immunity.[6][7]

Read More: 7  Simple Ways to  Boost Immunity

  • Improves Satiety & Promotes Weight Loss:

Flaxseeds are your best friends when it comes to stress reduction. In addition to their omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, flaxseeds are also high in magnesium, a mineral that can help regulate cortisol levels in the body.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, MD

The soluble fibre in flaxseeds slows our digestion. This makes us feel full for a long period of time.[8]

Satiety, thus improved, reduces hunger. It further reduces our food intake, in turn reducing the number of calories consumed by our body every day. This results in the reduction of weight.

  • Reduces Risk of Stroke:

Reduction in blood pressure due to consumption of flaxseeds reduces the risk of stroke.

  • Eases Hot Flashes:

Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms observed in women, going through menopause.

Lignans, the plant compounds present in flaxseeds have a weak oestrogen effect. As per research, this oestrogen effect of Lignans was found to ease hot flashes in post-menopausal women.[9]

How to consume flaxseeds?

  • The first thing to remember is that flaxseed is best consumed after it has been crushed or, better yet, ground. This is because whole flaxseed is likely to travel undigested through your intestines. In other words, you won’t be able to absorb the beneficial fats and other nutrients into your system.
  • Whole Flaxseeds can be added to salads, baked goods, pancakes, crackers, smoothies etc.
  • The best way to consume flaxseeds is to grind them, which makes them easier to digest. Ground flaxseeds can be easily added to paranthas, pooris, chutneys, cookies, muffins, bread etc
  • Flaxseeds can also be consumed in the form of Flaxseed oil, powder, tablet, capsule or flour.

The daily dose of flaxseeds:

  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) Whole Flaxseeds/Flaxseed Powder.
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon (tbsp) Flaxseed Oil.
  • 1200 to 3000 mg Flaxseeds in the form of Capsules.

If you’re looking to improve your facial appearance naturally, flaxseed oil maybe a good natural option. This oil is packed with essential fatty acids, which help hydrate and nourish the skin from within.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Flaxseed for Hair Growth: Unveiling Its Research-Based Potential Benefits

Storage of flaxseeds:

Ground flaxseeds are best stored by keeping them in airtight containers and refrigerating them.

Side Effects of Flaxseeds:

Higher doses of flaxseeds may cause side effects like diarrhoea, nausea, stomach pain, flatulence, bloating etc.

  • There’s a good probability you have a flaxseed and flaxseed oil allergy. If you experience itching, swelling, redness, or hives, you should stop eating these seeds. Vomiting and nausea could also be signs of an allergic reaction. Flaxseeds are more likely to cause allergic reactions in people who eat them often.
  • Flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, but they can be problematic, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. If ingested in excessive quantities, it has the potential to worsen inflammation in the body.
  • Flaxseeds have estrogen-like properties, which means they may disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. It may also cause alterations in the menstrual cycle in certain women.
  • Flaxseeds should be consumed with water or another liquid, however, if you don’t drink enough water, you risk developing intestinal blockage blockages. Flaxseeds can produce severe constipation and obstruction, which is very problematic for scleroderma patients.

Also Read: 10  Health Benefits of Eating Sabja Seeds

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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