Flaxseeds (Linseeds), benefits and cancer: The Truth.
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Flaxseeds also known as linseeds are tiny seeds packed with nutrition goodies and they are also considered as functional foods. Flaxseeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (one of the omega-3 fatty acids) and contain lignans which are known to play a role in reducing hormone linked cancers. They are also rich in soluble fibres and are gluten free.
There is enough and adequate evidence that flaxseeds can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Numerous studies have suggested that taking 25g to 50g of flaxseeds per day can significantly reduce blood cholesterol levels. One interesting study done in 2012 examined the effect of flaxseed dietary fibers in different food matrices on blood lipids, fecal excretion of fat and energy in a double-blind randomized crossover study, concluded that flaxseed drink and flaxseed bread decreased plasma total and LDL-cholesterol levels with an increased fat excretion. Another study, also concluded that milled flaxseed lowers total and LDL cholesterol in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) and has additional LDL-cholesterol-lowering capabilities when used in conjunction with cholesterol-lowering medications (CLMs).
Another benefit of flaxseeds is that, since it is also a good source of fibre, it can help to decrease or prevent constipation. Aside helping in reducing constipation, it may also help to support weight loss, some evidence was shown in a randomized trial research about the effects of flaxseed to manage constipation, weight, glycemia, and lipids in constipated patients with type 2 diabetes.
Flaxseeds and Cancer
Lignans are known to play a role in reducing risk of hormone linked cancers such as breast and colon cancer. Flaxseeds contain adequate amount of lignans. Current studies are looking into the effect of flaxseeds on cancer. This is because lignans convert to compounds similar to oestrogen but with much weaker activity than the oestrogen. Lignans interfers with oestrogen receptors in the body cells to block the effects of more powerful oestrogen. I am sure you are wondering about the effect or role of oestrogen and cancer. Well, it is known that increase levels of oestrogen which is a type of hormone is linked to some cancers. This is why current research is looking into how flaxseeds may play a role in lowering the risk of cancers linked to hormones since lignans can block the activity of oestrogen. Ongoing research looks promising and according to this literature review, some clinical trials showed that flaxseeds can have an important role in decreasing breast cancer risk, mainly in postmenopausal women.
How to use flaxseeds (linseeds)
It is best to use ground flaxseeds, basically grind them with a grinder or food processor for easy digestion. Use 1 - 2 tablespoon per day. Add it to your smoothies, low fat yogurts, cereals, porridges and vegetables. You can add flaxseeds to basically any food of your choice. I personally prefer adding it to oats porridge and my smoothie. Check out my yummy flaxseeds smoothie on YouTube.
Ground flaxseeds must be stored in the fridge or freezer because of it's limited shelf life. Ungrounded flaxseeds should be stored in a cool dry place. Note that, flaxseed oil oxidises easily with heat so it is not suitable for cooking. Oxidised oils or fats can increase the production of free radicals and free radicals can damage tissues. When using flaxseed oil, remember that there is no fibre and lignans in the oil. Use the actual seeds for full benefits.
Flaxseeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acids), they are high in lignans and rich in soluble fibre. Flaxseeds are good for reducing blood cholesterol levels, also keep in mind that anything that lowers blood cholesterol is also good for the heart. Flaxseeds can help prevent constipation, may help in reducing hormone-linked cancers. Include it in your diet daily, you have nothing to loose and it is also affordable.
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