Flax: the good, bad and the ugly

For years I have heard how good flax seeds are for the body. Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids we need and no longer do we have to get those omegas from fish oil. But recently I have heard some different facts about flax seeds that are making me think…are flax seeds still good for us? First I read that flax seeds reduce blood pressure, blood clot formation, inflammation and blood triglyceride levels. Flax seeds are also high in protein, fiber, potassium and protect against cancer. So far everything I have researched about flax seeds has been positive and reinforced what a miracle seed they truly are. While doing some research I came across the U.S National Institute of Health found that flax has laxative properties that could lead to increased bowel movements and abdominal pain. The U.S National Institute of Health recommends that people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other bowel diseases stay away from flax. Ok well I don’t think that is a deal breaker, flax has high levels of fiber so that is probably why it gives increased bowl movements. I then stumbled on to this next piece of information. In a study done by the Wageningen Centre for Food and Science published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that high intake of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid, which is a form of omega-3 fatty acids that flax are rich in) from flax seed and milled seed linked to higher levels of prostate cancer. ALA is different than the omega-3’s found in fish oil, the omega-3’s found in fish oil do not cause prostate cancer. So if you are an older man you should probably stick to getting your omega-3’s from fish oil instead of flax. Since I am vegan and not an older gentleman I will continue to get my omegas from flax until I decide otherwise. Overall I believe that flax seeds are still good for you, although they can cause some adnominal discomfort and increased bowel movements the positives out way the negatives. So many of the food we consume increase or decrease our bowel movements and they don’t pack the nutrients that flax seeds do. The prostate cancer thing is bothersome and after I finish this article I will call my father and tell him not to consume flax seeds. But if you consume flax in moderation you should be ok, just like the ancient Greeks said everything in moderation.

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