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The Benefits of Ground Flaxseeds in Smoothies

by
author image Ryan Biddulph
Based in New Jersey, Ryan Biddulph has been writing since 2010, with his articles appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM, among others. He has helped clients reach their personal fitness goals since 2001. He also runs an Internet marketing blog. He holds a Bachelor of Science in meteorology from Kean University and a certificate in Web development from the Cittone Institute.
The Benefits of Ground Flaxseeds in Smoothies
Adding a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed to smoothies and other drinks might contribute to heart health. Photo Credit Eliane Cubeisy/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Flaxseed is a rich store of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid and lignan--a powerful antioxidant. Flax oil does not contain the beneficial lignans and eating the seeds, ground or whole, will give you benefits. Health experts often recommend adding some ground flaxseed to smoothies, cereals, soups, salads and other foods. Making this food a regular part of your diet might reap several benefits though some purported uses require more research to substantiate health claims.

Inflammation

Omega-3 fatty acids have been well-documented for their anti-inflammatory properties. Flax seed serves as one of the richest nonanimal sources, perfect if you cannot or do not want to consume fatty fish. Regularly consuming flaxseed might benefit arthritis and other conditions influenced by inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center, however, notes that this sort of fatty acid might not work as well as the type found in fish oil. The body can convert ALA to the fatty acids found in fish but it probably does not reap the same benefits as directly eating foods that contain them.

Cancer

Research indicates that the antioxidant properties of lignan might offer protection against some cancers, according to the UMMC. MayoClinic.com explains that lignan has estrogen-like properties and might bind to estrogen receptors in breast cells; this would prevent estrogen in the body from attaching and fueling tumor growth. This connection requires further study in human subjects.

Digestive Health

Flaxseed represents a rich source of fiber and research indicates it might have a laxative effect. Taking too much flaxseed or any fiber-rich food or supplement without sufficient water intake can lead to constipation and possible bowel obstruction. Healthcastle.com, a website written by registered dietitians notes research that indicates flaxseed might help irritable bowel syndrome by reducing intestinal inflammation.

Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids have been touted as powerful tools for improving overall heart health and flaxseed might help lower cholesterol but the UMMC notes that studies have produced mixed results. It also notes evidence that shows people who eat a diet rich in ALA have a decreased risk of dying from a heart attack. Flaxseed appears to work in several ways to promote heart health including reducing blood clotting, inflammation and improving blood vessel health.

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