Flax seeds are a true health food!
Flax is an excellent source of dietary fiber, alpha-linolenic acid and phytoestrogens. They are also rich in magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Many of the beneficial health effects of flax are obtained via their phytoestrogen content. Ground flax seed is rich in lignans, one of the major classes of phytoestrogens and daily consumption can result in a significant impact on hormonal balance. Dietary flax can improve menstrual irregularities and menopausal symptoms and has also been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
For men, flax seed has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and may in fact, decrease prostate tumour growth.
Flax seed is also a fantastic source of fiber and thus can improve bowel regularity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent colon cancer.
Choose freshly ground flax seed to obtain maximum health benefits. I recommend buying whole flax seeds, storing them in the freezer and grinding fresh seeds once weekly using a coffee grinder. Store the ground flax in the fridge or freezer and add to cereals, salads, smoothies, yogurt, sauces or juice. Try including a minimum of 2 tbsp of ground flax into your daily diet. This amount of ground flax will provide 5g of fiber.
While flax oil is also a great addition to the diet, it does not possess the lignan content of ground seeds and thus, it does not provide the same phytoestrogen and fiber benefits as ground flax seed. Flax oil contains more alpha-linolenic acid than the ground seed however only a small amount of this oil can be converted to the health promoting Omega 3 oils. Supplement with a high quality fish oil to obtain the maximum health benefits of Omega 3s.