You’ve heard, probably many times, that your body needs omega-3 fatty acids… in fact, it craves them. These omega-3s are in short supply in the food chain these days, but when you get enough of them you help your heart, your brain, your joints, and even your mood.
You’ve probably also heard that the best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish or fish oil. Now, it’s true—fish and fish oil are fantastic sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but they don’t always work for everyone.
The other day I saw a patient who was frustrated because she just couldn’t find a fish oil supplement that didn’t give her gas or a lousy aftertaste. This isn’t common for everyone, but it does happen… so it’s important to have an alternative.
Another great source of omega-3 fatty acids is flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
A single teaspoon of flaxseed oil contains 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids—that’s more than most Americans get in a day from their diet. But when you regularly use flaxseed or flaxseed oil, omega-3s aren’t the only benefit you’ll get.
Flaxseed has a long history as a health food. In addition to the heart healthy benefits of omega-3s, flaxseed also contains lignans, which can help to balance your hormones. And flaxseed is a rich source of fiber—another important element of your diet that most Americans don’t get enough of.
Here are just a few studies that support the multiple health benefits delivered from flaxseed:
• The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed reduce inflammation, encourage a regular heart rhythm, and help to relax the arterial walls.
• The lignans in flaxseed help to balance estrogen in the body, they help to prevent the formation and spread of certain cancers, and they work as an antioxidant in the body.
• Fiber from flaxseed improves regularity and even helps your body’s glycemic response to carbohydrates.
Three Ways You Can Start Benefiting From Flaxseed Immediately
I highly recommend that you make flaxseed a part of your diet—it provides such a wide range of healthy benefits. There are three easy ways that you can take advantage of flax and all that it has to offer.
Flaxseeds are available at most health food stores or in the nutrition section of your local grocery. They’re crunchy and have a light nutty flavor. I recommend adding them to your salads, to yogurt, or to your morning cereal. They’re really tasty either way.
You can also look for supplements that contain flaxseed oil or flaxseed fiber. Both are a great way to make sure you don’t miss out on the benefits that flax can give you.
Mark Rosenberg, MD