Ground Flax Seed is a Health Hero!

Do you add ground flax seeds to your oatmeal, smoothie or on top of your salad? New data says you should and their are additonal health benefits and seeds in general listed below.

The newly published data focused on lignans in the diet and heart outcomes. Lignans are polyphenolic substances found in plant-based foods such as seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee. The highest concentrations of lignans are found in ground flax seeds (85 mg/oz followed by sesame seeds at 11 mg/oz).

Researchers analyzed the associations between lignan consumption and CHD risk in 214,108 men and women in three separate cohorts. All patients had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer when the study began. Higher total lignan intake and individual lignan consumption were associated with lower risk of total CHD.  The authors indicated that “ur findings are in line with the recommendation of adhering to healthy plant-based dietary patterns that emphasize increased consumption of lignan-containing foods such as whole grains, fruits/vegetables, flax seed products, and coffee for the primary prevention of heart disease".

Here are some other benefits to eating seeds and nuts:

1. Nuts can help with weight control.

In the Adventist Health Study, which examined obesity and metabolic syndrome in more than 800 people, there was a strong inverse relationship between tree nut consumption and developing these medical conditions. Other studies have also shown that eating tree nuts does not lead to weight gain and the high concentration of fiber and nutrients offsets the calories consumed.

2. Nuts may reduce heart deaths in the elderly.

In a larger analysis of the Adventist Health Study examining death in residents over age 84 years old, those that ate nuts >5 times a week had a reduced risk of overall death of nearly 20% and of heart disease deaths a stunning 40%. Of additional interest, the elderly who ate doughnuts had twice the risk of dying of heart disease during the study! It would appear you’d be nuts not to eat some nuts (unless allergic), and truly nuts to eat doughnuts!

3. Walnuts can lower cholesterol.

In a study of 40 subjects comparing a walnut-enriched diet to a control over eight weeks, the walnut diet reduced total cholesterol and the “bad” apoB component. Markers of inflammation and blood sugar were unaffected.

4. Ground flaxseeds lower blood pressure.

In a remarkable randomized six-month study of the effects of 30 grams daily of milled flaxseed on blood pressure, the seeds reduced systolic blood pressure on average 10 mg Hg, and diastolic pressure by 7 mmHg, a substantial reduction equivalent to a medication. In the subgroup that started with elevated blood pressures the average drop in systolic blood pressure was 15 mmHg which is more than expected from a new prescription medication.

5. Flaxseeds may improve blocked arteries.

In a rabbit model, adding 10% flax to a high-cholesterol rabbit chow led to a 40% reduction in plaque development and improved artery function on testing. If this translates to humans, it would be an amazing benefit.

6. Flaxseeds reduced blood sugar and cholesterol.

In an open-label study (when both researchers and subjects know which treatment is being administered) of diabetics, adding 10 grams of flax powder for a month lowered blood sugar and cholesterol by about 15%.

7. Chia seeds raise blood EPA levels.

EPA is one of the essential fatty acids in our diet, and many people seek animal-based sources like fish oil or krill oil. Adding 25 grams daily of chia seeds to the diet of post-menopausal women raised EPA levels by 30% while DHA (another essential fatty acid) levels did not go up.

8. Chia seeds improve markers of diabetes and inflammation.

In a study of 20 patients with diabetes, adding 37 grams daily of chia seeds reduced measures of diabetes, blood pressure, blood clotting and C-reactive protein.

9. Chia seeds may help lower weight.

In a study of more than 30 patients with metabolic syndrome, adding a mixture of nutrients including chia seeds led to weight loss and an increase in adiponectin, a hormone that helps prevent obesity.

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine” and this new study provides further support. I hope you add 2 tbs a day of ground flaxseed to your diet along with other seeds and nuts. Spread the word.

Dr. Joel Kahn

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