Flaxseed and flaxseed oil possess plenty of health benefits and are also known to help in reducing your blood glucose levels if you are a diabetes patient. If you are not suffering from prediabetes, these can also help you in delaying the development of type 2 diabetes.
In this article, we have tried to cover every aspect – pros and cons – of eating flaxseeds and flaxseed oil for a diabetic patient and in general.
Flaxseeds are one of the most ancient crops in the world. As per the trusted sources, people around the world have been cultivating them in textile as well as food industries ever since 3000 B.C.
Comprising about 45 percent oil, 35 percent carbs and 20 percent protein, these seeds offer some unmatchable nutritional value to your daily diet.
In about every 10 grams of flaxseeds, the consumer gets –
- Calories: 55
- Protein: 1.8 gms
- Carbs: 3 gms
- Omega-3 fatty acid: 2.4 gms
- Fiber: 2.8 gms
- Fat: 4 gms
Apart from this, flaxseeds are known to be the best plant based source of getting omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a very important fatty acid you must get from the food you eat, as your body doesn’t produce it.
Moreover, these seeds contain a healthy quantity of omega-6 fatty acids, making it an excellent ratio of 0.3 to 1 between omega-6 and omega-3, respectively.
Additionally, the carbohydrate content of these seeds is mostly of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber creates a viscous mass when it meets water, eventually helping you in keeping your blood sugar at optimal levels. Insoluble fiber, which doesn’t get mixed with water, enhances your fecal bulk, eliminating the possibility of constipation.
Flaxseeds contain an appropriate amount of digestible, high-quality protein. It is coupled with an amino acid profile which is as good as that of soybean.
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How are flaxseeds and flaxseed oil different from each other?
Flaxseed oil comes from dried flaxseeds. It either has to be pressed out or by solvent extraction.
Hence, when we take out oil from flaxseeds, it only consists of the fat content of the seeds, while the protein and carbohydrates become nonexistent. Plus, the oil also doesn’t provide the benefits of fiber.
To elaborate, about 15 ml of flaxseed oil provides 14 gms of fat and 0 gms of protein and carbohydrates. While if you have 15 grams of flaxseeds, they offer 4 gms of fat, 1.8 gms of protein and 3 gms of carbs.
Interestingly, as flaxseed oil gives more fat than flaxseed itself, it also provides a greater amount of ALA.
Benefits of having flaxseeds and flaxseed oil for diabetes patients
As per the studies, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, both, have been recognised as being very beneficial for diabetes patients. They help the consumer in improving upon many of its risk factors.
Flax seeds in managing blood sugar levels
If you are a diabetes patient, you must be aware about the importance of keeping your blood sugar levels in control, and how helpful fiber can be in your pursuit to achieve this.
Flaxseeds, because of their high fiber content, are ranked very low in the glycemic index, which means that consuming this will not raise your blood glucose levels. It regulates glucose production in your body, keeping it in controlled quantities all the time.
It happens because of the soluble fiber content of flaxseeds, which are mucilage gums. They slow down the digestion process and at the same time, reduce the absorption of specific nutrients like sugar.
As per a recent study conducted on people with type 2 diabetes, having 10 gms of flaxseed powder on a daily basis reduces fasting blood glucose levels by 19.7 percent, as compared to the people put in the control group.
Where the researchers are sure that flaxseeds definitely help in controlling blood sugar levels, the same can not be said for flaxseed oil.
Do flaxseeds and flaxseed oil help increase insulin sensitivity?
As we all know, insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels in our body.
Hence, if your body is facing any difficulty in responding to insulin, then you might need an additional amount of insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in check. This inability is known as insulin resistance, and is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Hence, if your body is sensitive enough to insulin, you may cut down the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a huge margin.
Flaxseeds have plenty of lignan which is a very powerful and effective antioxidant. Antioxidants are also known to help in improving the insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Moreover, ALA from flaxseed oil has also been proven to improve the insulin sensitivity in humans and animals.
Similarly, studies on rats suffering from insulin resistance have proven that the larger dose of flaxseed oil they were being given, the bigger improvement was noticed in insulin sensitivity.
Reduced risk of heart diseases
Diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing more serious heart diseases and stroke. Both flaxseeds and flaxseed oil have shown unbelievable results in these conditions owing to their fiber, ALA and SDG contents.
The presence of mucilage gum (soluble fiber) helps in reducing cholesterol in your body. It happens as they form a gel-like substance which impacts fat metabolism. Hence, it decreases cholesterol absorption.
Moreover, the lignan SDG in flaxseeds works as both an antioxidant and a phytoestrogen, which is a plant-based compound that imbibes the same quality as the hormone estrogen.
Where antioxidants lower your cholesterol, phytoestrogens play a crucial role in reducing blood pressure.
Additionally, ALA, the omega-3 fatty acid, possesses anti-inflammatory effects.
In some research, it has been proven that flaxseeds help in treating and even regressing clogged arteries which can potentially cause stroke.
Possible side-effects of flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
Despite offering multiple health benefits, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil may interact with some medications that are prescribed to maintain blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
This fact is more true in terms of flaxseed oil owing to its higher omega-3 content.
As omega-3 fatty acids aid in thinning the blood of the consumer, it may increase the effect of blood-thinning drugs which are administered to prevent blood clots.
Moreover, omega-3 fatty acid supplements may impact the blood sugar regulation process by lowering the blood sugar levels. It means that this might lower your blood sugar levels to such levels that are considered unhealthy. Hence, your doctor may have to reduce your dosage of blood-sugar lowering medications.
However, the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed or flaxseed oil supplements may be very helpful in increasing the effect of cholesterol-lowering medications.
Therefore, you are supposed to see a doctor first before adding flaxseeds or flaxseed oil to your daily diet.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil offer multiple health benefits making it a superfood for people suffering from diabetes. As we have discussed above, they produce amazing results in controlling blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Still, you are highly recommended to consult with your doctor before adding it to your diet.