By: Nick Thomas
There are a few nutritional things that I suggest which get certain reactions; flaxseed is usually one of these things. When told to incorporate this into your diet, you may immediately say…WHAT? No way! Yuck! However, before you count it out, let’s break down why you might want to keep an open mind about adding it to your daily routine.
Flaxseed has been around for centuries and is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This small, golden-colored seed has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve digestion, complexion, cholesterol, and hormone levels.
So how does this tiny seed do all this?
Let’s start with the one that highly interests most all of us — weight loss. Flaxseed makes an excellent, all natural dietary supplement when trying to lose weight. While you may want to eat less to lose weight, this is not always the healthiest option; it is more about what you eat. Flaxseed is a very fibrous which helps you feel fuller as you try to correct your eating habits. Its high fiber content and low calorie count benefit the body by still providing the necessary source of energy minus all the bad kinds of fat. This also helps in reducing inflammation allowing the body to shed excess weight and ultimately making weight loss easier.
Flaxseeds may be small in size, but they contain tons of fiber. Fiber can be either water soluble or insoluble, and it just so happens that flaxseed contains both types making it easier to be flushed from the body by simply drinking water. While flax is high in fiber, it actually contains very few carbs making it a good source of energy without the sugar. Flaxseeds also contain high levels of mucilage gum which is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and benefits the intestinal tract by keeping the food from emptying into the small intestines too fast, increasing nutrient absorption. Both soluble and insoluble fiber supports body detoxification and fat loss, and reduces sugar cravings. As you can guess, this amazing fiber content also leads to being a great digestive benefit. Finally, all this fiber helps trap the fat and cholesterol during digestion preventing it from being absorbed by the body.
Adding flaxseeds to your diet will also make hair, nails, eyes, and skin healthier. Shiny hair and strong nails will not happen overnight, but by tossing a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed in your daily eggs, oatmeal, or smoothie, you will see a significant difference soon. You may even see an improvement in acne, rosacea, and eczema due to the essential fats and B-vitamins which reduce dryness and flakiness.
We know antioxidants are important for our bodies to function, and it just so happens that flaxseeds contain them as well. An antioxidant is a molecule that prevents oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation in molecules is a chemical reaction that may produce free-radicals that, in turn, may lead to chain reactions that damage cells. Flaxseeds are abundant in lignans, a group of chemical compounds found in plants. They have a higher antioxidant value compared to any other fruit or vegetable. Lignans may have the ability to support the immune system and even act as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for women.
Flaxseeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids as well which help lower levels of depression by boosting the effects of antidepressants and may help cure the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. They also help reduce inflammation and contain DHA that is important for visual and neurological development, and can even reduce the mental overactivity of those with ADHD and enhance their memory.
Finally, the combination of omega-3 fat, lignans, and high dietary fiber has been shown to reduce the size of tumors and help prevent and fight cancer and heart disease.
Flaxseed may not be the most exciting addition to your diet from a taste perspective, but from a health benefit side, it is certainly worth considering.
For more information regarding a personalized general or sports nutrition plan contact me at Prime Performance 423-805-0870.
By: Nick Thomas
Owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist