What Are the Health Benefits of Flaxseed?

by Eliza Martinez Google

About Eliza Martinez

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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Overview

Flaxseed, which is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, is often used to support digestive health and relieve constipation. However, consuming flaxseed has many other health benefits when eaten regularly. Dr. Heidi A. Fowler with HealthTap.com recommends using ground flaxseed over whole because it is digested more easily, thereby providing the most benefit. Flaxseed, which can be purchased ground or can be brought home whole and then ground up, can be found in most health food stores and some supermarkets.

Maintains Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Regularly eating flaxseed can reduce LDL, or the bad kind of cholesterol, according to a study in the February 2008 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." At the same time, it helps improve insulin resistance which lowers the risk of diabetes. In addition, flaxseed improves the tone of the blood vessels and reduces inflammation. Flaxseed sprinkled on cereal or yogurt is a simple way to introduce it into the diet.

Controls Weight

Flaxseed bulks up as it is digested, keeping a person full longer, reports Women Fitness. This is due to its fiber content. Foods high in fiber are more slowly digested, which fills up the stomach on fewer calories and fat and keeps someone full until the next meal. This will keep a person from overeating, resulting in weight loss or maintenance. Flaxseed can be mixed into condiments or into baked goods. Consuming it about 30 minutes before a meal can help a person eat less.

Laxative

Eating flaxseed can help relieve constipation and is thus is commonly used to maintain proper digestion. The fiber that flaxseed contains promotes regular bowel movements thereby flushing out toxins and bacteria to keep the digestive tract healthy and clean. It also softens feces, making them easier to pass. Drink plenty of water when increasing fiber intake because eating too much fiber without enough liquid can actually lead to constipation. Putting small amounts of flaxseed into ground meat or bread is another simple way to start using it.

Fights Depression

Flaxseed contains DHA, an essential fatty acid that is vital for proper brain function. According to "Psychology Today," low levels of DHA in the diet has been linked to depression. It follows then that when DHA consumption is higher, mood improves. While research is still being conducted, many medical professionals feel that there is enough evidence to prove that increasing flaxseed consumption can fight, reduce and prevent the symptoms of depression. Since flaxseed has a nutty flavor, it makes a good addition to muffins or cake.

Photo Credits:

  • a bowl of wheat cereal with blueberries, toast and orange juice image by David Smith from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.