More people are waking up to the numerous health benefits of superfoods such flaxseed, often sprinkled over breakfast, mixed into smoothies or added to meals.
Flax seeds are one of the highest sources of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, known to support the cardiovascular system and decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Consuming flaxseed can
prevent blood clots
reduced blood pressure
improve levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
In addition, the therapeutic effect of flaxseed is multifactorial. Flaxseed used as tea before bedtime improves sleep, when taken as part of a naturopathic personalised care plan, it can aid hormonal balance (especially during transitional periods of life such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause), support skin health, digestive health and bone health. Evidence also exists in the improvement of mental health.
Flaxseed is a natural product with a wide array of anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral and also antifungal properties. Flax seeds are glossy brown and gold in colour and are shaped like an apple pip, about 4-7mm long. Originated in Egypt, it is considered one of the oldest plants in civilisation for its healing effects.
The earliest evidence of humans using wild flax was in the form of textiles dating almost 10,000 years ago, and in the 8th century when King Charles the Great ordered his subjects to eat flax seeds to improve their health. Today Flax seeds are emerging as a superfood as more scientific research points to their health benefits.
In my experience of using Flaxseed, it is much more than a superfood, I consider it as one of my 'miracle food sources' and occupies a seat in my natural apothecary repository.
The secret to benefiting from the therapeutic properties of flaxseed is in the preparation and timing.
The most effective season to consume Flaxseed is Winter (the cold months). This is because the energetic property of this superfood is ‘heating’. So it has a warming effect on our physiology, just as ginger and cinnamon have.
Avoid during puberty! and avoid if dehydrated or with conditions of internal 'heat' - unless under naturopathic supervision.
In my video, I share the correct way of preparing flaxseed, which was taught to me by an incredible woman, nurse and Naturopath, Barbara Wren, in 1997/8 and since has helped friends, family, and thousands of clients over the decades when integrated as part of a seasonal naturopathic care plan.
Flaxseed Tea PREPARATION
Flax is very difficult for the digestive system to process, in fact, eating whole can cause skin irritation, digestive inflammation, bowel issues and great thirst.
This is true for most nuts, seeds and superfoods which require a lot of 'hydration' or soaking to break them down and make them available for the body to make use of them.
The best way to extract the therapeutic value of flaxseed is by soaking and boiling the seeds. Tune into my demo, as I walk you through the process.
1 tablespoon Golden Flax
1 pint purified or distilled watr
Bring the contents to a boil in a ceramic pot. Leave to sit overnight.
In the morning you will notice the seeds have opened up to release a glutinous liquid, this is gold dust, rays of sunlight for the body.
Add more water and simmer for at least 40mins.
You can sieve the seeds and retain the liquid in a glass jug. Store in the fridge for up to a week. It is best consumed fresh.
Every day, take a quarter of the liquid, add hot water and enjoy it as a drink.
The best time to drink this tea is from 3 pm onwards.
8 Health Benefits of Flaxseed
1. Nutritional benefits
The typical serving size for grounded flax seeds is one tablespoon which is about 7 g
One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains:
2 g carbs
1.9 g fibre
3 grammes fat which includes 16,00MG of omega-3 fatty acids
vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 and folate
minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium
2. The Richest source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids
Flaxseed provides the best source omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians and vegans - attributed to a rich source of Alpha-linoleic-acid (ALA), an essential plant-based fatty acid that can not be produced by the body and is necessary for cell function.
Studies have shown eating flaxseed and ALA lowers risk of heart attacks, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, prevents chronic damage to blood vessels from toxins, prevents stroke and tumour growth. A large meta-analysis of 27 studies involving more than 250,000 people found that ALA was linked to a 14 % lower risk of heart attacks.
3. May reduce Cancer risks
Flax seeds contain one of the richest sources of plant lignans (phytoestrogens) compounds that have antioxidant and estrogenic properties which can help lower the risk of cancer.
Flaxseed contains up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
Observation studies show that those who eat flax seeds have a lower risk of breast cancer particularly in females beyond 50 or those who are post-menopausal.
A Canadian study involving more than 6000 females those who ate flax seeds are 18% less likely to develop breast cancer.
Men can also benefit from eating flax seeds, in a small study men who were given 30g of flaxseed while following a low-fat diet show reduce levels of a prostate cancer marker suggesting a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Evidence suggests flax as a potentially valuable food in the fight against various cancers, but more research is necessary.
4. Improves bowel health
Flax seeds are rich in dietary fibre just one tablespoon of flaxseed contains 3g of fibre, approx 8 to 12% of the daily recommended intake.
Flax seeds contain two types of dietary fibre, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber may reduce blood cholesterol and sugar. It helps your body improve blood glucose control, which can aid in reducing your risk for diabetes.
Insoluble fiber attracts water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass with less strain on your bowel, thus preventing constipation and bowel related issues.
5. Lowers Blood Cholesterol
In one study people with high blood cholesterol levels were selected and half of the people were given 30 g of flaxseed powder daily for three months when compared to the ones who didn't consume flaxseed powder, total cholesterol levels lowered by 17%
Flax and diabetes, in another study of people with diabetes researchers, found that taking 10g of flaxseed powder daily for one month resulted in 12% increase in good HDL cholesterol levels these effects appear to be due to the fibre present in flax seeds which burns through the bile salt, breaks down fats and is then excreted by the body, eventually lowering blood cholesterol levels.
6. May help to lower blood pressure
Flax have a natural ability to lower blood pressure.
A Canadian study found eating 30 g of flax seeds daily for six months lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg (millimetres mercury) and 7 mmHg respectively, for those already taking blood pressure medication, flax seeds lower blood pressure even further.
Regular flaxseed consumption decreases the number of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure levels by more than 17%.
According to a large review that looked at data from 11 studies revealed that taking flaxseed daily for more than three months lowered blood pressure levels by 2 millimetres mercury.
You may think two millimetre mercury fall is insignificant, but a 2-millimetre mercury reduction in blood pressure can lower the risk of dying from stroke by 10% and from heart disease by more than 7%.
7. High-quality protein suitable for plant-based diets
If you are considering cutting back on meat and worried about your source of protein, flax seeds may be just your answer. Flax seeds are a great source of plant-based protein and there is growing interest in flaxseed protein and its health benefits.
Flaxseed protein is rich in amino acids such as arginine, and aspartic acid.
Arginie plays a role in building protein for healing, muscle and wound repair. The body can use the protein to help build muscle and rebuild tissue.
Aspartci acid is used for fatigue, athletic performance, and muscle strength.
Flaxseed protein help improves immune function, lowers cholesterol, prevents numerous issues. It has anti-fungal properties also, useful as an oral wash.
8. Controls blood sugar levels
Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem worldwide millions of people are suffering from uncontrolled sugar levels and eventual complications that develop.
Type 2 diabetes is characterised by high blood sugar levels as a result of either the body's inability to secrete insulin or the body becoming resistant to it.
A few studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes who added 10 to 20 grammes of flaxseed powder to their daily diet for at least one month showed reductions of eight to 20% in their blood sugar levels.
Flaxseed as tea enhances bioavailability and optimises the therapeutic benefits. It is not always what we eat, but how we prepare the ingredients and the timing.
If you find it difficult in ingest Flaxseed, apply it to the skin. For maximum benefit, seek naturopathic guidance.
When visiting the wellbeing clinic, many clients will explain how they have made healthier eating habits, and incorporated superfoods such as flax, however still struggle with tiredness, irritable bowel or hot-flushe. Many are unaware of the deeply nourishing effects of flax.
It's only through the personal exploration of seasonal food therapy, we begin to experience real transformation at a cellular level.
Enjoy drinking Flaxseed tea, may the rays of light nurture you this winter.
In service to holistic well-being,
Working with Gee Gahir, a multi-therapy specialist, Pioneer of holistic wellbeing services in the NHS, and Co-founder of Wellbeing Wizards, a podcast platform that provides insights into transforming wellbeing, Gee is an accredited EMCC intuitive lifestyle coach and life-long naturopath providing preventative mind-body-space solutions to facilitate vibrant health and balanced lifestyles, using food as medicine.
Connect with Gee to arrange a personalised coaching experience.