Just in the last year, I have learned that eating flax is absolutely one of the BEST things you can do besides eating your fruits and vegetables to prevent disease. (By the way, if you’re having a hard time with your fruits and veggies, visit this site). Here are just a few of the ways flax prevents some of the deadliest diseases…
- Heart disease (the #1 killer in America) and high cholesterol. Flax causes a reduction in LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Diabetes. It is thought that the combination of omega-3 fatty acids (which flax has the highest amount in the entire plant kingdom) and the high fiber content play a role in reducing the incidence and likelihood of having diabetes.
- Cancer. Flax is high in lignans, which have been called natural cancer-protective compounds. It is also high in alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is also a promising cancer fighting agent.
- Constipation. Since it is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, it can both relieve and prevent constipation. Note, however, that whenever you eat a lot of fiber it is crucial to drink a lot of water… otherwise it could actually make your constipation worse. When the fiber absorbs the water, it softens the stool which makes it pass through the colon more quickly and easily.
- Inflammation. The high omega-3 content in flax has an anti-inflammatory effect and is thereby good for inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.
- Menopausal symptoms. Flax is the richest known plant source of phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like substances found in plants; these act as a natural hormone therapy and can stabilize hormones.
- Immune system disorders. The lignans and ALA in flax have been found to affect immune cells and compounds that control immune reactions.
- Depression. Flax has an ingredient called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which seems to be a mood boosting ingredient and is also essential for the proper function of brain cells.
For all of these reasons, I highly recommend that EVERYONE eat flax as a regular part of their daily nutrition program. It comes in flax oil (which to me tastes very nasty and is more expensive) or in seeds. I read in several places that for the best benefits, combine the flax oil with a dairy protein like cottage cheese or yogurt. If you choose the seeds, make sure you grind them up first in a coffee grinder – or else those seeds will just go through your system without being absorbed. I like to put ground flax seed in my oatmeal or sometimes on a salad. You should try it… the health benefits are well worth it, and you never know what kind of disease you could be preventing just from this small dietary practice.