For those of you who know me as a naturopathic practitioner, you will know I am the #1 fan of flaxseed. Flaxseed (also known as linseed), has a multitude of scientific research to back up its many health benefits, and in my opinion it is the ultimate ‘superfood’- and a very cheap one at that too.
In terms of heart health, flaxseeds have the ability to:
Reduce total cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels;
Have an antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) effect;
They are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, which are essential in the daily diet for heart health;
Can reduce serum insulin levels and hence have a positive impact for someone who has cardiovascular issues alongside Metabolic Syndrome.
Now, it’d be a crime to not list down all the other health benefits of flax. As you’ll see from the list below, flaxseed intake has the ability to affect not only the cardiovascular system but also the digestive and endocrine (hormonal) systems in a positive way.
They provide a good amount of dietary fibre;
They are a plant based source omega 3s (and also a great replacement for eggs when being used as a binder in baking or making fritters for example);
Flax contains lignans (a type of polyphenol). Lignans have the ability to block the effects of oestrogen and hence assist in the prevention of hormone-associated cancers. They are also helpful if you have something called ‘oestrogen excess’;
Eating flax on a daily basis can assist with perimenopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness).
I always recommend my clients to buy the whole seeds and grind the seeds themselves. Why? The natural oil from the flaxseed can easily oxidise and become rancid.
Eating oxidised oils → free radical production in the body → inflammation, something people with cardiovascular issues don’t need more of.
Why ground and not eat the whole seeds? Eating flax whole will not provide the above benefits as the seeds are too hard for the digestive system to break down.
A cheap coffee grinder can do the trick as it takes literally a few seconds to grind them up and is well worth the small investment & few extra seconds a day. Whole flaxseeds are very inexpensive too (compared to pre-packaged ground flax), so you will make your money back on that grinder real quick, I promise.
One tablespoon of ground flax a day may be all you need for a therapeutic dose.
You may need more depending on your current situation (get in touch if you’d like more help!).
Add the ground seed to a smoothie, on top of your porridge or even add it to a homemade heart-healthy salad dressing.