Flaxseeds: Nourishing your body from the inside out


Flaxseeds, often overshadowed by trendier superfoods like kale or kombucha, are gaining attention for their impressive nutritional profile. Despite a recent viral TikTok post suggesting miraculous skin-care benefits, experts emphasize the need to appreciate flaxseeds for their nutritional prowess rather than relying on unfounded beauty claims.

Nutrient-Rich Powerhouses
According to Dr. Selvi Rajagopal, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, flaxseeds are among the richest sources of alpha-linolenic acids (A.L.A.s), a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. While their potential in reducing wrinkles is questionable, the seeds have significant health benefits.

The Fiber Connection
Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, highlights the abundance of soluble fiber in flaxseeds. This fiber acts as a digestive aid, forming a gel in the gut that slows down digestion and facilitates the gradual absorption of nutrients. Flaxseeds' fiber content rivals that of fruits and vegetables, and it contributes to stabilizing blood sugars and promoting a feeling of fullness.

Gut Health and More
Dr. Selvi points out that the soluble fiber in flaxseeds supports the trillions of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, promoting digestion and overall gut health. Additionally, flaxseeds contain dietary lignans, plant compounds that may reduce inflammation and possess antioxidant effects, according to Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Moderation is Key
While flaxseeds offer numerous health benefits, they are not a cure-all, and extravagant claims about their cosmetic effects are debunked by dermatologic surgeon Dr. Isaac Neuhaus. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, emphasizes that while flaxseeds can form a moisturizing gel for the skin, there's no evidence of them surpassing conventional cosmetic products.

How to Incorporate Flaxseeds
To maximize the health benefits of flaxseeds, experts recommend incorporating them into your diet. Ground flaxseeds are easier to digest than whole seeds, making them a versatile addition to smoothies, baked goods, or even as an egg substitute. Overnight oats and porridge can also benefit from the gooey gel flaxseeds form when mixed with liquids.

Caution and Gradual Introduction
While flaxseeds offer a range of health benefits, moderation is crucial. Dr. Rajagopal advises starting with a teaspoon per day and gradually increasing to around two tablespoons daily to avoid digestive issues. Overconsumption of flaxseeds can lead to problems such as bloating and frequent bowel movements, cautions Ms. Zumpano.

In conclusion, while flaxseeds may not be a skincare miracle, their nutritional value makes them a worthy addition to a balanced diet. Approach them with moderation, and reap the benefits of this humble yet powerful superfood.

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