What is flaxseed good for?


Quick Answer

Flaxseed is good as a source of many nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. These are substances that help lower the levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood and raise the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. The omega-3 fatty acid that's most abundant in flaxseed is alpha-linolenic acid, which supports heart health and protects arteries from dangerous inflammation.

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Full Answer

The high level of omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed is unusual in a plant food. Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly associated with cold-water, fatty fish like herring, salmon, tuna and mackerel.

Flaxseed is also rich in fiber and lignans, which are compounds very much like fiber and give the same health benefits. They add bulk to the digestive system, which slows down the rate of digestion. They also remove toxins from the large intestine. Lignans are also phytoestrogens, or compounds that behave like milder forms of female hormones in the body.

Some nutritionists believe that ground flaxseed is better to consume than whole flaxseed, as too many of the whole seeds can pass uselessly through the digestive system. Flaxseed can be added to cereals, condiments and the dough for quick and yeast breads. Flaxseed comes from the flax plant, which is also the source of linen and other commodities.

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