Adding flaxseeds to your diet may have health benefits, including helping prevent high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer. These effects are partly due to the omega-3 fats flaxseeds contain. Just 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds will provide you with the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids for the day. These little seeds may also help lower your blood glucose levels.
Effect on Blood Sugar
A study published in "The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition" in 2009 found that consuming flaxseeds may help people with Type 2 diabetes lower their fasting blood sugar levels. However, another study, published in "The Journal of the American College of Nutrition" in February 2010, found that consuming the equivalent of 7.4 grams of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid from flaxseeds didn't improve blood sugar control in people with well-controlled diabetes. Flaxseed may be more beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels in people who have higher blood sugar levels.
Flaxseed may help decrease fasting blood sugar levels by lowering the glycemic index of the foods it's eaten with, according to a study published in "The Journal of Dietary Supplements" in September 2011. This means the flaxseed slows down the digestion of these foods so blood sugar is released more slowly into the bloodstream. The high fiber content of flaxseed could be the reason for these lower GI values. The antioxidants and lignans, plant chemicals that mimic estrogen, found in flaxseed may also help decrease insulin resistance in people with diabetes, helping them to control their blood sugar levels, according to a study published in "The Nutrition Journal" in 2011.
When adding flaxseed to your diet, use ground flaxseed instead of whole flaxseed. Ground flaxseed is absorbed better by your body, ensuring you get the most health benefits. Add flaxseed to baked goods, sprinkle it onto your cereal or yogurt or blend it into smoothies. You can even use ground flaxseed as an egg substitute in baking if you mix it with water.
Check with your doctor before adding large amounts of flaxseed to your diet since it can interfere with some medications, including diabetes medications, blood thinners and birth control pills. Suddenly increasing your fiber intake with a lot of flax could also cause digestive issues, including bloating, gas and constipation, especially if you don't drink enough water.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Flaxseed
- MayoClinic.com: Flaxseed
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: Effect of Flaxseed Gum on Reduction of Blood Glucose and Cholesterol in Type 2 Diabetic Patients
- Journal of Dietary Supplements: An Open-label Study on the Effect of Flax Seed Powder (Linum Usitatissimum) Supplementation in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Dietary Milled Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil Improve N-3 Fatty Acid Status and Do Not Affect Glycemic Control in Individuals with Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes
- Nutrition Journal: Flaxseed Supplementation Improved Insulin Resistance in Obese Glucose Intolerant People: A Randomized Crossover Design
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Effects of Flax Fiber on Laxation and Glycemic Response in Healthy Volunteers
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.