Benefits of Flaxseed

Heart Disease
Studies have shown that high dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease in general. ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is abundant in flaxseed. Although studies have not looked at using flaxseed for heart disease prevention, it is reasonable to assume that it will have similar benefits, compared to ALA.
Menopause Symptoms
Many women are interested in the flaxseed benefits for natural menopause relief. Research suggests that flaxseed may indeed be helpful for mild menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. It is not known if flaxseed is helpful for severe symptoms of menopause.
Since flaxseed may help relieve menopause symptoms, women often wonder if it also helps prevent osteoporosis (since many menopause treatments also help prevent osteoporosis). However, flaxseed does not seem to be beneficial for this use.
Flaxseed is high in soluble fiber. Taking it can help soften the stool to prevent and relieve constipation. As with all forms of fiber, it is important to drink plenty of water when taking flaxseed. Not getting enough water with the fiber might actually make constipation worse.
Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is a serious kidney disorder that is a complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as SLE or simply "lupus"). Research has shown that flaxseed may improve kidney function in people with this condition.

How Does Flaxseed Work?

Flaxseed contains several different components that may provide health benefits, including:
  • Alpha-linolenic acid -- An omega-3 fatty acid that may lower cholesterol and may be useful for people with heart disease
  • Lignans -- Phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like compounds) that might help with hot flashes or other menopause symptoms and may have protective effects against cancer
  • Soluble fiber -- May help lower cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar, promote colon health, and may help relieve constipation.
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