Question:

Does flaxseed help in increasing fertility and weight loss?

– Shamily BM

Answer:

There has been a lot of chatter in the media regarding flaxseeds and fertility. Looking at the research, I found evidence to support its effect on menstrual cycle and hot flashes, but nothing conclusive regarding conception in humans. So, flaxseed may have an insignificant effect.

Flaxseeds are high in fiber which helps promote satiety so that appetite is dampened and fewer calories are consumed. Theoretically, this would translate into weight loss if people didn’t compensate elsewhere in their diets. Again, there’s a lack of studies showing an isolated effect on body weight from flaxseed consumption alone.

No matter the physiological effect, it would take a lot of flaxseed to make an apparent isolated difference. My advice is that cracked or crushed flaxseeds* should be included to complement an overall healthy diet, similar to the addition of chia seeds, garlic, or ginger. Start with a teaspoon here and there to see in which foods it’s most acceptable. I like it on yogurt, in smoothies, oatmeal, grain breads, mustard, soups, and meatballs. If you’re committed you can work up to 2-4 tablespoons of flaxseed a day, as recommended by health experts.

*Why cracked or crushed flaxseed is best – Whole flaxseed is a good source of soluble fiber and lignans (phytoestrogen precursor) but isn’t fully digested to get the full nutritional benefit. Freshly cracked or crushed flaxseeds offer fiber and lignans plus thiamin, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid. Ground flaxseed, milled flaxseed, and flax meal can also be used but spoil more readily than the whole flaxseed, so keep them in the freezer. Flaxseed oil doesn’t contain the fiber, lignans or micronutrients; it only has the fat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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