Don’t Be Scammed By This “Superfood”
Flaxseed is a popular item these days. It’s touted as being a “superfood”. And advocates claim that it can do everything from treating depression to lowering cholesterol. But is it true? Should you jump on the flaxseed bandwagon? I say no.
In today’s article I’m going to share with you why not you eat flaxseed. I’ll also give you some important tips for things you can do instead that will give you far better health benefits.
The Deception Of Flax
If you believe the hype, you’d think that flaxseed was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But consider this. Humans have been growing flax for thousands of years. But they didn’t consider it fit to eat until recently. Could it be that our ancestors knew something?
The ancient Egyptians were fanatical about flax. They grew it to produce textiles. Fabric made from flax stalks is known as linen. And although some linen garments are still made and worn today, cotton replaced flax well over a century ago as the preferred textile material.
But that’s not all flax was used for. The seeds were also boiled down and made into paint since at least the 12th century. Yet when petroleum became cheap in the 20th century, flax was no longer the preferred source of paint either.
When the flax industry collapsed, those with financial interest sought out new markets. Or, more accurately, they sought to create new markets. And that’s just what they did. With clever marketing they positioned flaxseed as a health food.
Among the most touted supposed benefits of flaxseed is that it contains omega 3 fatty acids. In previous articles I’ve told you about omega 3s and how some types of omega 3s may be healthy in small amounts. But I’ve also warned you about the hype surrounding omega 3s. The claimed benefits of omega 3s aren’t what we’ve been led to believe. So just as I don’t recommend taking lots of fish oil, I don’t recommend eating lots of flaxseed.
Omega 3 fatty acids are highly unstable. They go rancid quickly. And rancid fats are damaging in the body. Although small amounts of the right types of omega 3s are needed in the body, more than is needed isn’t a good thing. And you can get all the omega 3s that you need by eating plenty of high quality butter or a serving or two of oily fish per month.
The biggest trouble with flaxseed when it comes to omega 3 fatty acids is that it contains the wrong kinds. Marketers try to trick us into thinking that all omega 3s are the same. But they are not. The only type of omega 3 that is needed in the human body is a type called DHA, found in natural animal fats and oily fish. But flaxseed contains a type called ALA which the human body cannot use directly. Instead, humans have to convert ALA into DHA, but we’re only able to convert 1 percent!
What happens to the other 99 percent that we can’t convert? Research has shown that ALA can be harmful, especially in men. In fact, studies have shown that ALA from flax may increase the risk of prostate problems.
When it comes to dietary fat, don’t fall for the lies industries tell you to try and sell you things. You don’t need a huge amount of any omega 3s. And you especially don’t need the ALA type found in flaxseed. Instead, stick with healthy, natural, time-tested dietary fats like high quality butter, coconut oil, lard, and fatty cuts of meat. In addition, cut out all seed oils (like soy, corn, and canola), including flaxseed.
Advocates of flaxseed claim that it is healthy because it contains large amounts of fiber. And while it’s true that flaxseed does contain fiber, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Yes, it’s true that eating the right types of dietary fiber are good for you. But eating the wrong types isn’t. After all, cardboard is made of fiber, but eating cardboard would probably bind you up and harm your health. So don’t fall for the marketing hype regarding fiber. It’s not all created equal.
Although flaxseed does contain some soluble fiber, which is the good type, it contains far more insoluble fiber. A small amount of insoluble fiber is okay, but you’ll easily get that from eating fruits, vegetables, and other natural, time-tested foods. But an excess of insoluble fiber can be bad news.
Insoluble fiber is rough and can be irritating to the digestive system. People with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases typically experience injury from eating too much insoluble fiber. And for everyone else, large amounts of insoluble fiber can have a laxative effect, but it can also lead to cramping, discomfort, and even constipation!
Instead of relying on flaxseed for fiber, eat more fruits and vegetables instead. Men have been eating fruits and vegetables for as long as there have been men. And there is little doubt but what eating fruits and vegetables is health promoting.
Promoters of flaxseed also throw around a term that you probably wouldn’t hear much of otherwise. That term is lignan. They claim that lignans, found in large amounts in flaxseed, are health promoting. They claim that lignans are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
But in truth, lignans are estrogenic. That means that they mimic estrogen in the body. Women who have estrogen sensitive cancers are cautioned regarding lignans. But we men, who want even less estrogen than even the most cautious of women, would be wise to steer clear of excessive dietary lignans.
If you want to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in your body, there are much better ways than to eat flaxseed. Instead, do the things that are really anti-inflammatory and antioxidative. The best things are to sleep enough, greatly reduce industrial seed oil consumption, get regular sunlight, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
The flaxseed scam has been manufactured in order to make money for industry. Don’t be deceived. There are better ways to support your health. As I mention in this article, eating just an additional serving of fruits and vegetables daily will have far more health benefits than flaxseed. Add to that a diet that includes natural, traditional dietary fats and a lifestyle that includes plenty of sleep and sunlight, and you’re on the right track.