Flaxseed consumption may play a role in preventing and treating diseases like cancer by blocking the inflammation.
Also called linseeds, flax seeds are small, shiny, tan, or brown-colored seeds with a nutty aroma and a host of beneficial effects. These seeds are the richest source of plant-based healthy Omega-3 fats called alpha-linolenic acid.
As a top superfood, flaxseeds are used as healthy fiber food that are rich in lignans, protein, and other plant compounds.
Flax Seeds Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
For every 100 grams (3.5 ozs.), flax seeds contain approximately 534 calories, which contains 42 percent fat, 18 percent protein, and 29 percent carbohydrates.
It is also rich in thiamin (Vitamin B1), magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese.
Flax seeds are packed with healthy fiber. Two tablespoons of flax seeds contain about 6 grams of fiber, which is already 20 percent of the recommended daily intake. It contains about 70 percent of insoluble fiber and 30 percent of soluble fiber.
Both the insoluble and soluble fiber of flax seeds help improve the function of the digestive system. The soluble fiber of the seeds prevents the body from absorbing excess cholesterol and fat from your diet. Soluble fiber also helps normalize cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Further, its fiber content serves as a food for the gut’s natural microflora that helps reduce toxins in the body. Flaxseed can also serve as a natural laxative.
An ounce of flaxseed contains approximately 6.3 mg of Omega-3 in the form of ALA. Flax seeds are loaded with 42 percent of healthy fats. This includes 73 percent of polyunsaturated fatty acid, and 27 percent monounsaturated fatty acid.
Polyunsaturated fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary since they cannot be produced by the body. Numerous studies proved that increasing the intake of essential fatty acids can improve health, body composition, physical and mental performance.
Flax seeds contain a number of heart-healthy properties that can help protect from inflammatory damage and improve cardiovascular health. The Omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds can help protect the blood vessels from plaque formation. In a study on the effect of flax seed intake on blood vessel plaque, researchers concluded that dietary flax seed can slow down the progression of atherosclerotic plaques.
Cancer prevention. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with the development of cancer. Flax seeds have been found to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
How Flax Seed Improve Chronic Inflammation
Excessive inflammation and oxidative stress are the two most common risk factors associated with a broad array of health problems. These health issues include type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and the development of insulin resistance.
Inflammation can be measured by the level of C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein (CRP) is the inflammation marker recognized by experts as an independent predictor of imminent coronary heart disease. It is also associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.
Elevated CRP is determined by a blood test and can be seen during flare-ups in diseases such as vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
In a study, flaxseed oils did not have a marked CRP-lowering effect. However, the result is the opposite for the whole flaxseed, which was borderline significant. Aside from the Omega-3 fatty acid, flaxseed is rich in dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber.
Researchers believed that dietary fiber can be completely or partially fermented to short-chain fatty acids such as propionate, acetate, and butyrate. In another study, dietary fiber, with a total intake of 8 grams per day or higher, significantly reduced C-reactive protein levels in obese and overweight subjects. Hence, such a CRP-lowering effect of whole ground flaxseed could be due to its fiber content.
So how does flax seed inhibit inflammation? The study proves there is a potent anti-inflammatory activity of soluble fiber present in flax seeds. Experts believe that dietary fiber reduces fat oxidation – a process where stored large fat molecules are broken down into smaller molecules, usually as triglycerides, which in turn decreases inflammation. Normal gut flora also helps prevent inflammation by promoting a healthy intestinal environment.
How to Use Flax Seeds?
When not properly chewed or ground, flax seeds can be undigested and just pass through your body. So milled or ground flax seeds are the best choice.
Below are some ways you can incorporate flax seeds into your diet.
- Add ground flax seeds in the batter when baking
- Use them in cereal, soups, and add on top of salads
- Add them to smoothies, shakes, stews, and dips
Flax seeds are very versatile, and you can create an array of tasty recipes. Just add a tablespoon of flax seeds for a healthy, toasty, nutty spin on your dish.
Adding flax seeds to your diet is truly a great way to increase your fiber intake, thiamine, Omega-3 fatty acid, magnesium and many other minerals and phytonutrients.
Thanks to their high mineral and plant compound content, flax seeds provide a wide spectrum of health benefits such as preventing different types of cancer, improving heart health, reducing excess weight, and many others.
 Seeds, flaxseed Nutrition Facts & Calories. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2
 Di Pasquale MG. (2009). The essentials of essential fatty acids. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22435414
 Francis AA. (June 2013). Effects of dietary flaxseed on atherosclerotic plaque regression. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585134
 Yunsheng Ma, et.al. (April 2006). Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein1,2,3. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/4/760.full
 Guan-Yu Ren, et.al. (March 2016). Effect of Flaxseed Intervention on Inflammatory Marker C-Reactive Protein: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808865/
 Jiao J, et. al. (February 2015). Effect of dietary fiber on circulating C-reactive protein in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25578759/