Flaxseed: A promising solution for menopause symptoms
As someone constantly on the lookout for ways to curb menopause symptoms as each one rears its ugly head, flaxseed has been one solution that I've turned to from the very outset of perimenopause. As mentioned in previous articles, I started my menopause journey when hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was a no-no, with warnings of it possibly leading to cancer, so I've always turned to natural supplements to support my menopause. Of course, HRT doesn't have the bad rap it used to, and it's now a very common treatment option for many women. That said, there are many women who perhaps can't turn to HRT or simply don't want to. So, with that in mind, and with flaxseed gaining momentum for its potential benefits in alleviating menopause symptoms, I wanted to write a little about the food and explore its properties and the possibility of it being the potential hero for menopause.
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, comes from the flax plant. It's been cultivated for thousands of years, so it's not a new phenomenon, widely recognised for its nutritional value. Indeed, flaxseed is an excellent source of dietary fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and essential minerals such as magnesium and manganese, so it's healthy for everyone to consume. But the lignans in flaxseed make it a promising menopause solution as these lignans contain unique compounds that possess both antioxidant and estrogenic properties.
So, how do these lignans found in flaxseed help with menopause? Research and investigation into the potential effects of menopause found lignans to have weak estrogenic effects, which may help alleviate symptoms such as the dreaded hot flashes and night sweats. Apparently, the lignans can potentially compensate for the reduced levels of natural estrogen in our bodies, with studies showing that consuming flaxseed or flaxseed oil can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and reduce night sweats. I won’t say no to that!
If you're like me, I do much reading on the subject of menopause, so I'm constantly being bombarded with statements about how menopause is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and urinary infections. The bonus with flaxseed is that it also contains a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can support heart health. Indeed, there are several studies showing that consuming flaxseed can lead to lower total cholesterol, including bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease in menopausal women.
As mentioned above, thanks to the ongoing decline in estrogen levels, menopause also puts us at risk of osteoporosis, leading to a loss of bone density. Whilst I've only been able to find information on studies on animals showing consuming flaxseed potentially improving bone mineral density, personally, I'm more than happy to include it in my diet until research on humans, especially menopausal women, concludes one way or the other. Indeed, it's good for you and if there is a benefit for my bones, then bonus!
Thankfully, flaxseed is fairly easy to incorporate into your diet; however, if you're like me and a little intolerant of it, I have to limit my intake to a flat teaspoon daily if I don't want to upset my indigestion. You can get it in whole seed form, ground seeds or as flaxseed oil. They do recommend ground flaxseed is generally recommended for better absorption, which is the option I go for as I can easily add it to my daily smoothie. Of course, you can also sprinkle it onto your morning cereal or yoghurt. Or, if you're a bit of a home baker, it's a perfect ingredient in baked goods. And if you're not one for smoothie making or cereals, then add flaxseed oil to your shopping list instead and use it in a salad dressing or drizzled over cooked vegetables. As remedies go, natural flaxseed really is an easy supplement to include in your menopause armoury!
Currently, I'm taking the Linwoods milled flaxseed mainly because it is organic, good quality and easy to buy locally if I don't want to buy online. However, the other brands listed are all good quality and organic too and may even be more economical. I have also included a whole-seed option and flaxseed oil for those looking for alternatives.