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11 Benefits of Flaxseed Oil You Never Knew

11 Benefits of Flaxseed Oil You Never Knew

I can’t say that I love flaxseed. I mean, it doesn’t really have a memorable taste! What I do love is how good it is for me and how easy it is to incorporate into my day! You can have it whole, ground, or as an oil. Add it to cereal, smoothies, salads, and more! Just don’t heat it up. Heating can destroy the health benefits of this wonderful seed.

King Charlemagne, in the 8th century, required his subjects to consume it. In fact, it was law! He believed in its health benefits that strongly. Some of those benefits include a decrease in heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s a lot of power for a little seed! But what else might it do?

It is such a tiny seed and some of its benefits come from the oil and others come from ingesting it from a ground-up state. It does have a short shelf life so if you don’t use it very much it will go rancid sooner than you’d like. Flaxseed oil contains vitamins such as B1, B2, C, E, and carotene, a form of vitamin A. The oil also contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, zinc, iron, and trace minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that promotes heart health .Flaxseed oil does not contain fiber and phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like compounds) like the whole seed does.

The best option is to freshly grind it yourself and add it to your foods. I use a coffee grinder just for seeds and it works perfectly! Another good option is to buy it whole or ground and store it in the freezer. Finally, you can use the whole seeds but chew your food well. You should anyway, right? Whole seeds look really nice in muffins and in salads. Seeing the seeds is a nice reminder that you’re choosing a healthy lifestyle!

And just what are those benefits? Here we go!

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1. Cancer

Two of the most important components of flaxseed that may help protect against cancer are omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed, called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), have been shown to inhibit tumor incidence and growth.

Lignans (which are phytochemicals such as phytoestrogen) may help protect against hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancers by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism. This phytoestrogen binds to the cell receptors, blocking the ability of the body’s own hormones to bind. This interferes with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

2. Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascularly, flaxseed oil is like a blood vessel lubricant. It appears to keep the white blood cells from sticking to the inner walls of the blood vessels. This, in turn, prevents plaque from being deposited thereby preventing hardening of the blood vessels. Apparently, flaxseed oil is also useful in treating an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart failure!

3. Diabetes

By using the whole seed, flaxseeds may improve sensitivity to glucose in glucose-intolerant people. This may be related to the antioxidant properties of the seed. In other words, it may modestly improve blood sugar.

4. Inflammation

ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.

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5. Lupus

Flaxseed has also been shown to improve kidney function in people with lupus.

6. Stroke

As stated above, by reducing inflammation in the body, you reduce your chances of a stroke. However, there have also been indications that flax may bring on a stroke. You need to talk to your doctor to see if supplementing with flax is right for you.

7. Cholesterol

Again, by lubricating your blood vessels with flaxseed oil, you prevent plaque build-up and lower your risk of high cholesterol.

8. Dry eyes syndrome

According to Jack Greiner, DO, PhD, of Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, a high-fat diet is partly responsible for this syndrome. Eating a high-fat diet prevents the oil in the eye glands from moving out. They get too thick! He believes that the omega-3 fat in flaxseed oils soften the glandular secretions so they can flow.

9. Arthritis

Other chemicals as well as ALA, as stated earlier, decrease inflammation in the body. That is why flaxseed oil is useful for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.

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10. Depression

Flaxseed oil and omega-3 contains docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids. People with significant depression suffer from low levels of these compounds. These compounds are also found in walnuts and fish.

11. Liver disease

The lignans (phytochemicals) in flaxseeds may reduce liver disease risk factors.

The Cons

The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds aren’t taken up as well by the human body as the omega-3 in fish oil, which is why greater levels of flaxseed need to be consumed to meet our omega-3 needs. Flaxseeds have very high fiber content, so it’s best to start slowly and increase the levels gradually to avoid cramping, bloating, or an excessive laxative effect.

Precautions

Interactions

If you take any medicines or other supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using flaxseed. Flaxseed may block the normal absorption of medicines. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil may also interact with drugs like blood thinners, NSAID painkillers, hormone treatments, and medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Use caution when taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil with supplements like St. John’s wort and Valerian, which are often used for people with depression.

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Risks

Never eat raw or unripe flaxseed — it could be poisonous. Talk to a doctor before using flaxseed or flaxseed oil if you have diabetes, bipolar disorder, high triglycerides, bleeding disorders, or prostate cancer. Don’t use flaxseed if you have digestive problems (like Crohn’s disease, IBS, or colitis) and women with hormone-sensitive diseases (like endometriosis, PCOS, breast cancer, and uterine cancer) should not use flaxseed.

Storage Tip

Keep it in the freezer.

The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze ground flaxseed in a plastic sealable bag. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.

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Jennifer Wasylenko

Exercise Physiologist, ACSM

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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