Flaxseed Functions Workington
Flaxseed has begun to gain some interest over the past few years with people who may consider themselves “health fanatics.” It is assumed to be good for us because of two compounds in the seed called lignans (phytoestrogens with antioxidant capabilities) and n-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed, according to “The Health Professional’s Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements,” contains 100 to 800 times more lignans than any other seeds.
Flaxseed has been grown for more than 5,000 years in Central Asia, and there are multiple marketing and media claims associated with it. Some of the claims are that it can help relieve constipation, reduce risk of heart disease, improve symptoms of lupus and eczema, and reduce inflammation from arthritis.
The following are key points for flaxseed based on current research available:
- Flaxseed may increase triglyceride levels (cholesterol) in people who already have high triglycerides.
- As of now, there is not enough evidence to support that flaxseed reduces stroke or a heart attack.
- Experimental studies in animals suggest flaxseed inhibits tumour growth.
- Ground flaxseed may help with constipation (since it increases dietary fibre) if sufficient liquids have been consumed.
For individuals on weight-controlled diets and taking flaxseed oil, a good rule of thumb to estimate calories is that flaxseed contains 140 calories and 14g of fat per tablespoon.
Food sources of flaxseed include whole flaxseed, flaxseed oil, margarine made from flaxseed oil, flax breakfast cereals, and flax bread that has been made with flaxseed flour.
Flaxseed must be refrigerated, and can be taken by itself, added to hot foods (soups or casseroles) after cooking, or even added directly to food during cooking (not suggested for frying at high temperatures).
Manufactures recommend 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil be taken daily (contains 7 grams of alpha-linoleic acid and 2 grams of linoleic acid). The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends 1.6 grams of alpha-linoleic acid daily for men and 1.1 grams per day for women.
Whitney Bundy is a registered dietitian and director of the Food & Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Bundy and all of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on their blog at backushospital.org.
Norwich Bulletinauthor: Whitney Bundy