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Flax seed benefits have been long recognized, but there are still some that you may not know about. For example, did you know that flax seeds can help with weight loss? Or that they can be used to protect your skin from UV damage? Flax seeds also contain many antioxidants, which means they may be able to reduce your risk of getting heart disease and other health conditions over time. Read on to learn more about the flax seed benefits you may not know about!
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1) Source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids
While fish get a lot of praise for their omega 3s, flax seed is arguably just as beneficial—and it's much more vegan-friendly. Flax seeds are loaded with omega-3s, says nutritionist Dana James. They're also rich in lignans, which can help decrease your risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as phytochemicals that may protect against skin damage from UV rays. If you're not a fan of eating whole seeds (they have a slightly nutty flavor), try adding ground flax meal to smoothies or yogurt, sprinkle them on top of salads, or add them to baked goods such as muffins and pancakes.
2) Great for heart health
While heart disease is more prevalent among those who regularly eat red meat and other animal products, it can also be caused by too much cholesterol in your bloodstream. Luckily, including flax seed in your diet can help balance your cholesterol levels by lowering triglycerides and raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Even better, research has shown that consuming flax seeds regularly doesn’t just improve cholesterol; it also helps prevent arterial plaque buildup (i.e., clogged arteries). So if you want to keep a healthy heart, it’s best to include 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your daily diet.
3) Helps with digestion
Dietary fiber is an important part of any diet, but it’s especially crucial for preventing and managing constipation. Fiber-rich foods can help bind to water and hold it in your colon, helping you avoid laxative use. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are all examples of high-fiber foods that can help support regularity. Canned or dried legumes are also a great source of fiber and can be cooked or soaked to add even more to your daily diet. Be careful not to overdo it though—fiber has no calories or negative side effects (like bloating) when consumed in moderation!
4) Treats and prevents constipation
But flaxseed is high in fiber, and a daily serving—just two tablespoons—is all you need. Some research suggests that a diet high in fiber can lower your risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease, but always check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet. Your body might not be used to eating so much fiber, warns Somer. And if you're currently taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins, have other health concerns, or are on weight-loss medication, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of dietary fiber.
5) Improves calcium absorption
By soaking in water, flax seeds form a gelatinous coating that increases intestinal absorption of calcium. While they’re not as rich in calcium as dairy products, they do increase your overall intake of one of our most important nutrients. This can be especially helpful if you’re lactose intolerant and have trouble absorbing calcium through food sources alone. Think about including more foods high in calcium, like kale and dark leafy greens, in your diet.
Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They're also rich in lignans, which can help decrease your risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Consuming flax seeds can help prevent arterial plaque buildup (i.e., clogged arteries). Flaxseed is high in fiber, and a daily serving is all you need. The seeds can help treat and prevent constipation.
They're rich in calcium, which can help lactose-intolerant people who have trouble absorbing calcium through food sources alone. Just two tablespoons a day are recommended.