We have heard about the different benefits of flaxseed and how it is a healthy food, but is flaxseed paleo and can it be included in your diet?
The literal definition of the Paleo diet is one that humankind used to enjoy over 10,000 years ago, while they were still defined as hunter-gatherers, and before they took to agriculture and domesticating animals. Following such a diet therefore requires a lot of more modern food items to be avoided.
The reason for this, according to the advocates of the system, is that the human digestive system was designed by evolution for those early conditions and a lot of the items we eat now are considered to be the cause of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Seeds together with nuts were a part of our ancestors diets. There is no evidence however, that seeds were a significant part of their diet. But they did eat them.
So the immediate answer to the question of whether or not flaxseeds can be included in your Paleo diet, is yes. But just like nuts, seeds, including flaxseed are not the main ingredients of the diet and are on the lower part of the Paleo food list. This means eating them in smaller portions compared to vegetables, fruits and meats.
A Closer Look at Flaxseed
The healthy properties of seeds seeds recommend themselves in any diet. For one, they contain a good plant based source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which makes them a good option for this healthy fat for those who don’t eat fish.
What’s important to understand with seeds is that do eat them or use them in your food as long as they don’t have any harmful effects, to you. Then, by all means include them in your Paleo diet.
Benefits of Flaxseed
The known benefits of flaxseeds are that they are high in fiber and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also rich in antioxidants and B vitamins, protein and potassium, thiamin and manganese. Plus, they contain a group of phytoestrogens called lignans that can be beneficial. As such, they can be a good addition to your diet.
Cautions with Flaxseed
However, before rushing out and buying a container of them, you should consider your own circumstances. For example, if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) then the high fiber levels in flaxseeds, and many other seeds, may be detrimental to you. The high fiber content in seeds can add to the irritation because it is more difficult for the body to digest high fiber foods.
Other situations where these seeds may have an effect are if you are taking blood-thinning, cholesterol-lowering or blood-sugar lowering medications, topical steroids or anti-inflammatories. In any of these cases, either avoid flaxseeds altogether, or consult your doctor before tucking in.
If none of the above is a problem for you then you can add flaxseeds to your shopping list straight away. While they should not be considered the only source of omega-3 and fiber on your menu, they can certainly be a beneficial supplement to your Paleo diet.
Other Omega-3 Options
If the healthy omega-3s are what you’re after from flaxseed, you’ll want to know that they are not the only source of omega-3 fats around. If you’re open to eating fish, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel have very high omega-3 content that are better absorbed by the body.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are also other plant based sources of omega-3s to consider, and whether these other items can provide as good or maybe better outcomes.
For one, the omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds may not be taken up well by your body. If eaten whole, then the protective shell of the seed will not be easily broken down by your digestive system, so the seed will often pass through without giving up much of its precious omega-3 cargo.
If ground into meal or turned into oil, then the unsaturated fat content soon makes them rancid unless they are carefully stored or eaten quickly.
Another seed option that are Paleo friendly, are chia seeds. These offer similar benefits and don’t have the same issues, so they are worth considering as an alternative.
Flaxseed are paleo, they are beneficial to our health and are a good supplement to a diet. This makes them a worthwhile addition to your meals.