Flaxseed is a versatile plant with lots of uses. Its leaves and stem give fibers and its seeds are believed to be beneficial to our health. Flaxseed oil is a popular natural supplement which is supposedly good for cardiovascular health.
Anti-cancer properties of flaxseed
Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas report that flaxseed consumption may help reduce risks for certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.
The researchers looked at 161 male patients diagnosed with prostate cancer but haven’t started treatment. Some participants were given three tablespoons of flaxseed per day and some not. After three weeks, the researchers observed that cancer cells of those who had flaxseed were not growing as fast as those who hadn’t. The findings suggest that flaxseed might prevent and control prostate cancer. A tablespoon of flaxseed a day may be enough to keep the cancer cells away.
Nutritional value of flaxseed
According to the Flax Council of Canada, a tablespoon (about 14 g) of flaxseed oil is contains:
- Calories: 124
- Total fat: 14 g
- Omega-3: 8 g
- Omega-6: 2 g
- Omega-9: 3 g
Eating the seeds directly may even be better. The seed coat of flaxseed is rich in fiber and the inside is rich in nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in flaxseed in addition to the fatty acids are:
- B vitamins
The researchers believe that the omega-3 fatty acids and lignan may be responsible for flaxseed’s anti-cancer properties.
According to Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
“Cancer cells migrate by attaching onto other cells. Omega 3 fatty acids keep cells from binding together and attaching to blood vessels. Prostate cancer is linked to the hormone testosterone. Lignan may reduce testosterone, and more active forms of this hormone. In turn, lowering testosterone levels may reduce a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer.”
How to prepare flaxseed
I know flaxseeds as toppings for bread and pastries. The researchers at MD Anderson recommend that flaxseed should be ground to make it more digestible and make the nutrients in the seed easier to absorb. However, eating the seeds as such or the ground version might not be agreeable to the palate. Thus, they suggest other creative ways of taking your daily dose of flaxseed:
- · Try crackers or tortilla chips with flaxseed baked in – they have a pleasant nutty taste
- · Add ground flaxseed to cookies, muffins or cornbread recipes. Its mild and nutty flavor tastes great in peanut butter cookies, or in almost any baked good
- · Add ground flaxseed to yogurt or cottage cheese
- · Sprinkle flaxseed over your salad, or mix it into salad dressing
- · Sprinkle flaxseed over oatmeal, cold cereal or grits
- · Mix flaxseed into pancake or waffle batter. It also perks-up your maple syrup
- · Stir ground flaxseed into juice, water, sports drinks or smoothies
- · Sprinkle flaxseed over soup
- · Stir flaxseed in applesauce, jellies and jams
- · Mix flaxseed in with low-fat mayonnaise before putting it on a sandwich
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