Ground flax seed consumption may decrease breast cancer risk by slowing one’s menstrual cycle. It may also control prostate enlargement as effectively as the leading prescription drug.
Comparing the regularity of omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.
Flax seed is one of the original health foods treasured for it's heeling properties throughout the Roman Empire. One of the original medicines used by Hypocrites. Mahatma Gandhi himself was right when he said "wherever flax seeds become a regular food item among the people there will be better health" Doctor Andrew Wile one of the more reputable alternative medicine physician says that if you can only make a single dietary change it should be to add flax seeds to our diet. Ok, but where do we find them and how should we eat them? Flax seeds are almost always in the bulk section of any natural food store. For about a dollar a pound you have got like a two-month supply. There are brown ones and golden ones they're the same nutritionally so pick your favorite color i guess. They come with nature's own finest packaging, a hard natural hull that keeps them fresh for up to a year in an airtight container. Unfortunately, nature's packaging is actually a little too good, if we eat flax seeds whole they are likely to pass right through us and come out the other end and not do us much good so chew them really well or grind them up in a coffee or spice grinder, a mini food processor or a good blender. After they are ground, store them in the refrigerator and they will last a few months. An easy way to get our daily intake is with a morning smoothie. Just put 2 tablespoons of flax seeds in a blender, grind them to powder, throw in some frozen berries, maybe a half of a frozen banana, soy milk or almond milk, any of the so called motherless milks. Flax seeds have this binding quality that makes for this thick rich kind of milkshakey type smoothies. In fact you can use ground flax seed to replace eggs in baking. Just blend 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons water until it gets all kind of gooey for each egg in the recipe. Ground flax is better than the flax seed oil. The seeds are little nutrition powerhouses and we lose much of the nutrition when we just press out the oil. Not only are flax seeds the richest source of lignans, they are a great source of iron, zinc, copper, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber which can lower our cholesterol and triglycerides, even boron a trace mineral important for optimum bone health. We don't get any of those though with just the flax seed oil. Another example of the importance of eating the whole plant foods. Flax seeds are incredibly powerful at dampening the effects of estrogen. Eating just a single tablespoon of ground flax a day extends the length of a woman's menstrual cycle, not the menses itself but the whole month long cycle, by an average of about one day. So you have fewer periods throughout your life which means less estrogen exposure and lower breast cancer risk. Interesting story behind this, we've known for a long time that young women who have frequent bladder infections were at an increased risk for breast cancer. Frequent bladder infections tied to breast cancer? It seems strange and used to be a big mystery but now we think that repeated antibiotic treatments for the bladder infections were probably wiping out all the good bacteria from the colon that take the lignans in our diet and turn them into these powerful anti-cancer compounds so eating flax, the world's best source of lignans may indeed help prevent breast cancer. It's good for men too. Flax seeds were recently compared to a leading pharmacological treatment for enlarged prostates. The standard drug costs about $300 versus only about $10 for daily flax. This new study found they both work just as well as each other but what about the side effects? The drug can cause headaches, dizziness, diarrhea and all sorts of abnormalities. Flax has some side effects too though, it improves our cholesterol and blood sugar, controls our blood pressure and helps control hot flashes though that's not usually a problem in sufferers of enlarged prostates.
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McCann SE, Kulkarni S, Trevisan M, Vito D, Nie J, Edge SB, Muti P, Freudenheim JL. Dietary lignan intakes and risk of breast cancer by tumor estrogen receptor status. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Oct;99(3):309-11. Epub 2006 Mar 16.
W. Zhang, X. Wang, Y. Liu, H. Tian, B. Flickinger, M. W. Empie, and S. Z. Sun. Dietary flaxseed lignan extract lowers plasma cholesterol and glucose concentrations in hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Br. J. Nutr., 99(6):1301-1309, 2008.
G. K. Paschos, F. Magkos, D. B. Panagiotakos, V. Votteas, and A. Zampelas. Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil lowers blood pressure in dyslipidaemic patients. Eur J Clin Nutr, 61(10):1201-1206, 2007.
Pruthi S, Thompson SL, Novotny PJ, Barton DL, Kottschade LA, Tan AD, Sloan JA, Loprinzi CL. Pilot evaluation of flaxseed for the management of hot flashes. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2007 Summer;5(3):106-12.
For some of the latest videos on the health benefits of flaxseeds:
More about flaxseeds in the prevention and mediation of breast cancer:
And for a few of the latest videos on flaxseeds and prostate health:
For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer and Diet, Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Vitamin B12: how much, how often?, Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet, and Flaxseeds for Prostate Cancer.
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Phytonutrients may in part account for the benefits of whole plant foods in cancer prevention.
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