These are my favourite seeds for women’s health.

However, the health benefits of these fiber-laden phytosterol packed seeds are by no means exclusive to women!

1-2 TBSP of ground flaxseeds are a healthful addition to every adults diet.

I can tell you 3 good reasons why:

#1.Flaxseeds have a very high EFA profile (essential fatty acids)– the anti-inflammatory omega oils make up 57% of their total fat!

Practical notes:

You need to grind flax to get the benefits of the oils*.

  • you can do this in your blender or a coffee grinder
  • or buy “flaxmeal” at a healthfood store (from fridge/freezer section)

Store them in the fridge or freezer * especially when ground (ie you can buy meal!)

WHY?

To get the benefits of these omega oils– these essential fatty acids are easily oxidized- destroyed by heat and light, so you want to protect them from both when you store then, and importantly– buy them that way (in a vacuum sealed bag, in fridge or freezer section.

#2. They are extremely high in fiber–both insoluble fiber and and soluble fiber

… In 1 TBSP you get 2.2 grams of fiber! …

Health note:The average ?Western? person eats about 20 grams of dietary fiber per day.

It is recommended that people eat 30-40 grams per day.

Soluble fiber helps with balancing blood sugar balance, lowering cholesterol levels, soothing the mucosa of the small intestine, whereas the Insoluble aspect helps with bulking up the stool and supporting regular elimination. Fiber helps with giving you a sense of fullness, a feeling of satiety, which is why is so effective for weight management.

Lastly, #3 Flax are the best source of lignans– a very important detoxifying phytosterol* that also protects against heart disease.

What are Phytosterols?

Plant compounds that have the capacity to bind to estrogen receptors and appear to have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects, depending on the expression of estrogen receptor subtypes in target cells and the level of estrogen present.

Phytosterols are being extensively studied for their therapeutic value in conditions associated with estrogen imbalance including menopausal symptoms, PMS, endometriosis, prevention of breast and prostate cancer, and protection against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

The 2 main classes of phystosterols are isoflavones and lignans

Isoflavones: soy is the most common food source of isoflavones, but others include: legumes, alfalfa, clover, licorice root, kudzu root. Many herbs used to help with reproductive hormone imbalance and menopausal symptoms are high in isoflavones.

Lignans: very weak estrogen blockers, but have a very strong ability to help your body eliminate estrogens from the liver and colon and make them less available for re-absorption and metabolism. Lignans we consume from plants are converted by friendly flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans, including one called enterolactone which has been shown to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.

Ground flax seeds, (unlike flax oil) are the best source of lignans.
Berries and whole grains, nuts, seeds are rich sources of plant lignans, and vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as coffee, tea and wine also contain some. While coffee may contain up to 30 mcg/100 ml, and equal weight of kale contains several thousand mcg of lignans. Flaxseed contain over 300,000 mcg/100 gram and sesame seeds almost 40,000 mcg. [1] The research:

One study followed postmenopausal women who consumed the most lignans and found they had a significantly lower risk of dying from any cause and especially from breast cancer when compared to women who ate only small amounts of lignan containing foods.

It is interesting to note that the women who were consuming the most lignan in their diets at the start of the study had about half the risk of dying as those who ate little lignan.

When higher versus lower quartiles of lignan intake were compared, there was a 51% reduction of all cause mortality in those consuming the higher lignan levels.

These same women were far less likely to die of breast cancer–they had a 71% decreased risk of dying of breast cancer. [2]

This is a unique paper in that it examines the association of lignan intake prior to breast cancer diagnosis and the risk of dying. This is relevant for all women who are conscious of the way that diet effects health, but these findings suggest that postmenopausal women in particular should be making an active effort to increase dietary lignan intake.

In this study the average lignan intake averaged only 244 mcg/day.

In the postmenopausal women, the lowest risk of dying was seen in women consuming >318 mcg per day.

Reaching these levels should be easy to accomplish, for example 0.1 grams of flax seed provide close to this dose of lignan.

HOW TO EAT FLAXSEEDS?

Sprinkle on cereals (after cooking, like oatmeal, or amaranth porridge**),
in smoothies, in yogurt, in a beverage (even water) (but don’t let sit for too long, or you will get a gel-like pudding!)
They also make a great vegan egg-substitute in baking! (see that link for how-to!)

***

1. Milder IJ, Arts, IW, Van de Putte B., Venema DP, and Hollman, PH. Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database including lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol, and matairesinol. British Journal of Nutrition, 93:393-402. 2005

2. McCann SE, Thompson LU, Nie J, Dorn J, Trevisan M, Shields PG, et al. Dietary lignan intakes in relation to survival among women with breast cancer: the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Jul;122(1):229-35.

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