Are you eating flax seeds? No? Maybe you should and it's not that hard to do.
Did you know flax seeds are one of the best foods for your health? It's easy to add them to your diet. Dr Greger (NutritionFacts.org) recommends one tablespoon of ground flax seeds a day (though not the oil). I find them easiest to eat at breakfast and put them on my porridge or cereal. I buy them mixed up with dried fruits like goji berries. They need to be stored in an airtight container for up to 30 days (to prevent the omega 3 fats from oxidising).
Here's 5 reasons why:
1. They lower your blood pressure
In a proper scientific trial subjects were divided in two and half secretly fed a tablespoon of flax seeds every day for six months, the other half ate a placebo. The study showed a seven point drop in diastolic blood pressure. It might not sound a lot but that drop meant a 46% less chance of a stroke and 29% lower chance of heart disease. In fact the flax seeds were two to three times BETTER at reducing blood pressure than the leading medicines, BUT only have GOOD side effects.
"Flax seed induced one of the most potent anti-hypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention."
2. Lessen inflammation in the body
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (essential means our bodies don't make it - we need to get it from food). Most of us don't eat enough omega 3 and we overload on omega 6 (from meat and vegetable oils). This overload can result in inflammation in the body. That's not good as it can lead to lots of health problems like heart disease, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
The World Health Organization and the European Food Safety Authority, say we should get at least a half a percent of our calories from the short-chain omega-3 ALA. That’s easy: Just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed takes care of that. Our body can then take that short-chain omega-3 and elongate it into the long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA similar to that found in fish fat. But why take the fish oil when it's contaminated with PCBs? Stick to the plants.
3. Reduce breast pain
Hormone treatments can be helpful in reducing period related breast pain but they often cause unpleasant side effects and there may be risks associated with long-term hormonal therapy. But what if you could eat something with no side effects that would work instead? A study of women with severe menstrual breast pain showed those who'd eaten a muffin with flax seeds in it regularly significantly reduced their symptoms of breast pain, swelling and lumpiness. So flax seed is an attractive alternative for controlling these symptoms. In fact The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has stated that a tablespoon of flax seeds a day should be "first line therapy for period-related breast pain".
Not only does it help reduce monthly symptoms but flax seeds, which contain lignans (phytonutrients) have also been shown to prevent breast cancer and also increase survival rates after cancer is diagnosed.
4. Lowers your cholesterol
Flaxseeds (but not flaxseed oil) lower cholesterol. They're a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (the omega 3 fats again) which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides levels. Flax seeds also contain both insoluble and soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is thought to help in lowering cholesterol, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol within the body.
Remember though, your body makes enough of its own cholesterol. To avoid having high cholesterol in the first place you should avoid meat, dairy, eggs and junk food.
5. Improves fasting blood sugar levels
For years it's been known that flaxseeds blunt the blood sugar levels after a meal but only recently was it tested on diabetics to see what happened. After one month of eating a tablespoon a day, patients saw a significant drop in fasting blood sugar, triglycerides and their A1c levels dropped. They didn't gain any weight either. It was a small study so should be taken with a pinch of salt but even so, when there's no bad side effects, what have you got to lose?