We’re always game for quick ways to boost the nutrient power of our meals. And it doesn’t get much easier than flax seed. Sprinkle it on your coconut yogurt, add it to smoothies, salad or pancake batter. If you’re feeling wild, throw a tablespoon on your ice cream. We don’t judge.
Here’s why we love this stuff: It’s super tiny but just a little bit (like that tablespoon we mentioned) can do wonders for your health. It contains the antioxidant lignan, soluble and insoluble fiber and has omega 3 fatty acids which means it’s good for your heart, skin, and digestive system. If you need more convincing to add this mighty ingredient to your diet, here are some of our favorite benefits of this nutty little seed.
BAD CHOLESTEROL FIGHTER
A 2010 study from Iowa State University showed that men with high cholesterol who took flax seed tablets found that their LDL levels lowered after 12 weeks. According to researchers, the lignans found in flax seed may be responsible for this healthy outcome. If you have high cholesterol, speak to your health practitioner about adding the seed or a flax supplement to your diet.
KEEPS THINGS MOVING
No one wants to talk about it but being backed up sucks. And if you cringe over downing prune juice or eating bran cereal, ground flax seed or flax seed oil can be a gentle way to get things moving. Just a single tablespoon packs 8 grams of fiber. That’s more than you’ll find in an apple and far gentler than an over the counter laxative. If you’re new to flax seed, try half a tablespoon first until you adjust. And remember, drink plenty of water.
STRONG BONE BUILDER
According to a 2009 study, flax seed oil can help lower the risk of osteoporosis. Granted, the study was done with rats but the results we’re still impressive. Researchers found rodents given the oil had lower deoxypyridinoline in their urine, a compound found in those with bone resorption. These findings may be helpful for people with osteoporosis, as well as women who are pre-menopausal or diabetics as both can effect bone health.
For those who are concerned about prostate cancer, there have been animal and human studies showing a direct link between flax seed consumption and a reduction in cellular activity that leads to tumor growth. In one study, researchers hypothesized that the lignans in ground flax helped prevent cancer cells from clumping together and forming tumors. If prostate cancer runs in your family, look into adding the seed to your menu.
Now that we’ve convinced you to make flax seed part of your life (we did convince you, right?), here are some helpful things to know. Flax seed can be found at most grocery stores and a relatively low priced. To reap the full benefits, opt for buying seeds that have been grounded , making them more digestible. If you’re feeling up to it, try grinding your own with a coffee grinder. And don’t forget to refrigerate after to keep fresh.
DO YOU USE FLAX SEED? HOW? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.