Tasty Flaxseed & Walnut Pesto to Boost Health and Fight Disease

Flaxseeds may be tiny, but they pack a punch when it comes to health. They contain nutrients that help men fight diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Flaxseeds are available whole or ground, and this recipe is a perfect introduction.

7 minute read

Last Updated July 14, 2020

Tasty Flaxseed & Walnut Pesto - Men’s Health - 1MD

Flaxseed has been used for centuries for their health-protective qualities. Today, flaxseed is known as a “superfood” because of the many beneficial properties it provides for human health. 

The most common disease affecting men’s health include diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Flaxseed contains nutrients and compounds that help men fight these diseases and maintain better health.

The Benefits of Flaxseed

Flax seeds are loaded with essential nutrients that boost health and fight common diseases. The health benefits from these seeds mainly come from the high fiber content, large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and plant compounds known as lignans. 

Adding flaxseed to your diet can improve your health in a number of ways.

Fight inflammation: Inflammation is a healthy immune system process, but it can be dangerous when uncontrolled. Inflammation is linked to serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. The high omega-3 fatty acid content in flaxseeds can help prevent unnecessary inflammation in the body. 

Fight cancer: Lignans are plant compounds that possess powerful antioxidant properties. These properties can help lower the risk of prostate cancer and other cancers common in men. When combined with a low-fat diet, eating flaxseed reduces the level of a specific marker known to cause prostate cancer. Studies also found a reduced risk of colon cancer when diets contain flaxseed. 

Better digestion: One tablespoon of flaxseed contains 12% of the daily recommended fiber men need. Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which benefits digestion in two ways. Insoluble fiber allows water to bind to stools, preventing constipation and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Soluble fiber increases the consistency of your intestinal contents, which slows digestion. This allows for better nutrient absorption and helps control blood glucose levels. 

Strengthened immunity: The plant-based protein in flax is high-quality and beneficial for your immune system. The protein in these seeds has been found to reduce tumor growth and fight infections due to its anti-fungal properties. 

Flaxseed for Improved Heart Health

Heart disease is one of the top causes of premature death in men in the United States. Poor diet has a significant impact on this, which means that with dietary changes, you can reduce the risks. 

Flaxseed contains important compounds that work to protect your heart and prevent heart disease. 

Lower cholesterol: High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol causes fatty deposits to accumulate in the arteries. These can harden forming plaques that obstruct blood flow. These plaques also cause arteries to harden (atherosclerosis). Too much cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease by blocking blood circulation and weakening blood vessels. Flax seeds not only work to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, but they increase HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood. The fiber in the seeds binds to bile salts, which are then excreted. As these bike salts are replaced, cholesterol is pulled from the liver, which lowers overall blood levels. 

Prevent stroke: Flaxseed is a rich source for ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an essential fatty acid. This fatty acid helps to lower cholesterol and prevent blood vessel damage that can lead to stroke. High levels of ALA in the blood have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. The benefits of ALA for the heart are comparable to the more well-known EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. 

Lower blood pressure: Hypertension (high blood pressure) causes blood vessels to harden, which restricts the amount of blood getting to the heart. As a result, the risk of heart failure increases. Studies prove that flaxseed has a natural ability to lower blood pressure. When consumed daily for three months, blood pressure is reduced to healthy levels. Even a small reduction in blood pressure can significantly reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack, making flaxseed an essential heart-healthy food for men. 

Control blood sugar levels: There is a significant link between diabetes and heart disease. Over time, uncontrolled blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves. This increases the risk of heart disease and heart failure. The number one cause of death in individuals with diabetes is a heart attack or stroke. Flaxseed has been linked to reduced blood glucose levels, as a result of the fiber content in the seeds. Fiber slows digestion and the release of sugar into the blood. Flaxseed is a beneficial addition for those with diabetes and anyone looking to prevent heart disease. 

Lose weight: The high fiber content and high-quality protein support weight loss, which can protect the heart. Obesity and being overweight contribute to excess fat storage, which increases the risk of heart disease. The fiber in flax seeds slows digestion triggering a feeling of fullness that can prevent you from over-eating. In addition to this, the proteins in flaxseed stimulate hormones that trigger full sensations, so you will eat less. 

Flaxseed & Walnut Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
2 cups packed basil or Italian parsley leaves
1 to 2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 4 tablespoons water

Directions

In a food processor, combine the walnuts and flaxseeds. Then, process until ground, which will be between 1 and 2 minutes. Add basil or parsley, garlic, parmesan, and 2 tablespoons water.  Puree the mixture until smooth and thick, adding more water, a little at a time, if necessary.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for natural nutritional goodness, then flaxseed needs to be on your radar. These tiny seeds are packed full of nutrients and health-boosting compounds that can protect you from numerous diseases. 

By improving digestion, controlling diabetes, and protecting your heart, flaxseed can improve quality of life and increase longevity. Good things really do come in small packages when it comes to flax seeds.

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