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Health Benefits of Flax Seed

Posted Jan 26 2010 7:08pm


Health Benefits of Flax Seed

Benefits

A good source of fiber and alpha - linolenic acid.

Drawbacks

Pregnant and breast - feeding women should not eat large quantities of flax.

People who are on tamoxifen should speak to their physician and / or exercise caution before flax to their diet.


Flax seed, traditionally known as linseeds. ( Alsi in Hindi, Gujarati and Punjabi ) Teeny-tiny, shiny brown flax seeds are great for your blood sugar as well as your heart, so if you haven't tried them yet, it's time for a trip to the store. Buy ground flax seed or grind it yourself in a food processor or coffee grinder. If you don't see it in your supermarket, look in a natural foods store. Using flax seed may be a mystery to you now, but it's simple once you know how. It has a pleasant, nutty flavor.

Flax seed is rich in both protein and fiber (more than 2 grams per tablespoon of ground seeds). It's also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that's key to good blood sugar control, because it helps cells use insulin. Several large studies have found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes skyrockets when magnesium intake is low, so get your fill. Even if you already have diabetes, getting plenty of magnesium can help.

Don't eat enough fish? Load up on flax seed. It's rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which the body uses to make the same type of omega-3 fatty acids you get from fish. Like fish, flax seed keeps your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol, keeping your heart pumping normally, and preventing dangerous blood clots from forming. Also like fish, it guards against inflammation in the body, which is linked to many age-related disorders, including insulin resistance and diabetes.

Health Bonus

Because flax seed protects against inflammation, it also helps guard against inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, eczema, and psoriasis.

The omega-3 fats in flax seed help prevent and even help treat breast cancer, thanks to hormone-like plant compounds called lignans. In the body, these convert to compounds that are similar to the body's own estrogen but have much weaker activity. By occupying estrogen receptors on cells, they block the effects of natural estrogen and thus may provide protection against hormone-fueled cancers such as breast cancer. Flax seed has several hundred times more lignans than any other plant food.

Like fish, flax seed may also offer protection from Alzheimer's and depression. Constipated? Flax seed should do the trick. (Eat too much, and you'll quickly discover the laxative effects.)

Cooks Tips

The lignans in flax seed are much better absorbed by the body if the seeds are eaten ground or crushed. (Whole seeds, on the other hand, tend to pass right through your body undigested.) But because of its high fat content, flax seed will spoil if you grind it but don't use it right away. The solution: Buy whole seeds in bulk and grind them only as you need them. Whole seeds will last up to a year stored at room temperature. If you buy ground flax seed, keep it in the fridge.

Menu Magic

You can easily make ground flax seed part of almost any meal.

Sprinkle on hot or cold cereal.

Add to meat loaf, meatballs, burgers, and casseroles.

Stir into yogurt or add to granola or trail mix.

Add a tablespoon or two to doughs and batters for pancakes, waffles, muffins, and breads. Just keep an eye on baked goods in the oven; the flax seed could make them brown quicker than usual.

Use as a topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Add to smoothies.

Use to replace one-fourth of the flour in muffin or pancake batter.

Add to cooked fruit desserts like baked apples or blueberry compote.

Sprinkle in your favorite sandwich filling, such as tuna or chicken salad.

Add to cream cheese or sprinkle on a soft cheese and enjoy with some whole grain crackers for a blood sugar-friendly snack.

Perfect Portion: 1 to 2 tablespoons

A tablespoon or two a day, ground and blended into other foods, could do wonders for your blood sugar control and overall good health. You can also mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed into a glass of water and drink it.

Source - Reader's Digest

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