The Effect of Flaxseed on Hypothyroidism

By Gina Lay

Flaxseed holds substances that promote good health. Flaxseed is loaded with a fatty acid called alphalinolenic acid, which is beneficial for the heart. This acid belongs to the group of omega-3 fatty acids. Good health requires a proper ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The average American diet consists of too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.

Flax seeds

Flaxseed holds substances that promote good health. Flaxseed is loaded with a fatty acid called alphalinolenic acid, which is beneficial for the heart. This acid belongs to the group of omega-3 fatty acids. Good health requires a proper ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The average American diet consists of too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.

Hypothyroidism

Endocrinologist examing a patient

Hypothyroidism occurs when there is too little thyroid hormone in the blood. The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones, and when the gland decrease in production, it causes the thyroid to become under-active. This causes several problems in the body. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include constipation, fatigue, inability to handle cold, mental confusion and a slow heart rate. Although the condition affects both men and women, it is most common in women. According to "Alive Magazine,” many women develop problems with their thyroid after a condition that is physiological stressful such as a pregnancy or any increases to the adrenal hormones. The Mayo Clinic explains that different natural medicine textbooks advise caution in patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism using flaxseed.

Benefits of Flaxseed

Sliced multigrain bread with flaxseed

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil benefit the body by protecting against heart disease, lowering cholesterol, and helping to control blood pressure. Other benefits of flaxseed include a reduced risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Foods containing flaxseed provide a valuable source of fiber, which helps reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Flaxseed also relieves constipation and helps control blood sugars in diabetic patients. Magnesium is also present in flaxseed, and it helps control asthma symptoms by keeping airways open.

Flaxseed Caution

Fresh apricots on a wooden table

Flaxseed contains cyanogen, which is okay to have in small amounts; however, eating more than two tbsp. a day could prevent the thyroid from taking up the proper amount of iodine. To make cyanogen inactive, cook it. Flaxseed also contains goitrogens. Goitrogens suppress thyroid functions and are found in different foods such as broccoli, rye, and apricots. Goitrogens can cause a goiter, induce hypothyroidism, and further affect the function of the thyroid and the growth of a thyroid. A standard one cup serving of food containing goitrogens is suggested two to three times per week and can be tolerated by many individuals with hypothyroidism without danger.

Flaxseed History

A close up of a pile of flaxseeds

Flaxseed was introduced in Mesopotamia, and culinary use has been dated from ancient Greece. The popularity of it decreased after the fall of Rome. Charlemagne, the emperor, helped restore and shape flaxseed in Europe's food culture. He appreciated the different uses of flaxseed and passed laws of consumption and cultivation. This resulted in a widespread use of flaxseed in Europe. It was not until the first colonists arrived in the United States that flaxseed was planted.

Flaxseed Facts

A healthy bran and flaxseed muffin with a couple of blueberries

Whole flaxseed can be stored in room temperature for up to one year only, and ground flaxseed should be stored in an airtight compartment frozen or refrigerated. There should be no light able to get into the container. Refrigerated flaxseed should be used within 30 days of being ground, and frozen flaxseed should be used within 45 days of storing. Flaxseed can be added to hot cereal, muffins, pancakes, salads, salad dressings, yeast breads and more. It is better to start with a low dose of flaxseed because of its fiber content and slowly increase the amount.

References

About the Author

Gina Lay has written extensively online since 2009. Her current writing includes work for eHow, where her specialty topics include articles related to health. Lay attended the National Institute of Technology and University of Akron for medical assisting.

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