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For The Love Of Flaxseeds

For the love of flaxseeds, flaxseed nutrition, naturopath

Flaxseeds (also called linseeds) are one of my favourite dietary additions in clinical practice because they are easily accessible, and have multiple health benefits. I’ve listed some of my favourite benefits below, for the love of flaxseeds!

Flaxseeds can assist with reducing constipation

Flaxseeds are high in soluble fibre, which gives them the added benefit of being very mucilaginous (slippery).  Both of these qualities mean that they are great for moving the bowel and can be one of the factors that may contribute to reducing constipation if eaten on a daily basis (1-2 dessert spoons), making sure that you’re drinking enough water too.

They are also full of polyphenols, which are wonderful plant compounds that support the health of our beneficial gut flora. Ground flaxseeds are far more effective than whole flaxseeds, as they need to be ground to release the mucilage and to also make those lovely polyphenols accessible to your gut flora.

Flaxseeds are a wonderful supportive food for women’s health

Flaxseeds (linseeds) are useful for peri-menopause & menopause, and can be helpful in conditions like PCOS too. They are high in lignans, which is a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens have a mild oestrogenic activity (1000 times weaker than our oestrogens) and are capable of binding to oestrogen receptors that are found throughout the body. It’s thought that they have both mild oestrogen stimulating and blocking properties, and thus they can be quite balancing. 

This can be especially important as a woman begins her journey through peri-menopause/menopause. In fact, over time, 2 dessertspoons (25g) of ground flaxseeds (freshly ground if possible) per day may provide assistance with alleviating vaginal dryness and atrophy. If eaten regularly, flaxseed may also help increase SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which is often low in people who have PCOS.

Flaxseeds are a plant-based source of Omega-3 (ALA)

This is excellent news for vegetarians and vegans, however I think it’s important to note that the plant-based form of Omega-3 (ALA) has to go through several conversions along a pathway in your body before it’s changed into the useable forms of EPA and DHA (EPA and DHA is what we get directly from fish and is in fish oil capsules). To successfully convert the plant-based Omega-3 (ALA), we also need good body levels of zinc and magnesium along with B6, B3 and vitamin C – if you’re deficient, conversion rates to EPA and DHA are low.

Flaxseeds are readily available at most local supermarkets

These days, you can find flaxseeds in most supermarkets, but there are some important things to consider when making your purchase:

  • It’s best to eat them ground for better absorption – we barely chew the whole seeds, and flaxseeds are very hard, so often they’ll pass straight through the gut into the stool meaning that the wonderful nutrients are unable to be absorbed or utilised;
  • If you buy them ground, look at the expiry dates and don’t buy packs that look like they’ve been sitting on the shelves for ages! The fats in flaxseeds are very delicate and easily damaged, so the fresher the better. Some shops will store ground flaxseed (or flaxseed meal) in the fridge which is brilliant (they are best kept refrigerated or even in the freezer), but the ultimate choice would be buying the whole seeds and grinding them yourself in a high powered blender!

How to add more flaxseeds to your daily diet

  • Sprinkle on top of yoghurt, porridge
  • Add to mayonnaise for sandwiches and salads
  • Add to biscuits, breads and cakes
  • Incorporate into your daily smoothie
  • Add a few dessert spoons to a large glass of water, stir and drink
  • Sprinkle on top of avo or nut butter on toast
  • Try these Flaxseed, Banana and Date Muffins

What is your favourite way to eat flaxseeds? Can you add more to your daily diet?

Do you need some help with your health? Book in for an appointment and let’s get you started on feeling better.

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