The #1 Family Friendly Food

August 21, 2012
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Reading, writing and no more Ritalin?

Flax seeds have been a superstar staple of my various Fat Flush programs for decades—from two to four tablespoons daily—for weight loss, hormonal control, and regularity.

But these little miracle workers are a great food for kids, too. And, they are especially important for boosting brain power which will come in mighty handy since back to school is right around the corner.

The omega-3s found in flax seeds (and flaxseed oil) have a major impact on the brain because over half the brain (60 percent to be exact) is composed of fat. Brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters are regulated by tissue like hormones which are made from essential fats. The brain—and entire nervous system, for that matter—needs the right kind of fats for nourishment and protection.

Our kids are being diagnosed right and left with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and drugs like Ritalin are being handed out like candy.  Do you really think our children are suffering from massive “Ritalin deficiency?” A growing body of research has shown that kids with ADHD may really be showing the signs of a massive omega-3 deficiency. It’s certainly not by accident that the clinical signs of ADHD—the inability to focus, a short attention span, restlessness, mood swings, and irritability—match those of an omega-3 deficiency.  When children start eating the right kind of omega-3 fats, parents always notice that their kids become much more calm and focused.

For moms with PMS or perimenopause,  flax seeds are little miracle workers eradicating symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, as well as reducing ovarian dysfunction, balancing menstrual cycle changes, and helping to reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density.

And that’s because of mini miracle workers in flax known as lignans—the superstar ingredient which makes these tiny seeds so therapeutic.

About 800 times more concentrated in flaxseeds than in any other plant—lignans are well respected hormone modulators. But beyond balancing hormones, they also kill viruses and help to knock out type 2 diabetes, lower LDL cholesterol, and help to reverse atherosclerosis.

Their real claim to fame is in the arena of cancer where recent studies have shown that flax hull lignans prove to be major players in halting the spread of breast, prostate, and lung cancer.

According to the Health Sciences Institute, researchers have found an 82% decrease in the spread of metastatic lung tumors, a 71% reduction in the protein that causes aggressive cancer growth, and a 31% increase in cancer cell death in just 30 days among people regularly consuming concentrated flax hull lignans.

While there are many different types of lignans, the most researched is an enterolactone type lignan that is also known as SDG (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside). SDG helps to inhibit the formation of blood vessels that tumors form in order to keep the cancer alive.

In two heaping tablespoons of cold milled flax seeds, you will be getting 350 mg of this super potent SDG lignan. In addition, you will benefit from 10 grams of soluble fiber to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce the amount of carbohydrates absorbed by our bodies for effortless weight loss. When cold milled flax seeds come in contact with liquid, they become soft and jellylike, making them highly useful as an intestinal cleanser and bowel regulator.

The alpha linolenic acid (ALA) content of flax seeds also provides stand-alone benefits of its own. In several studies of breast cancer risk, the higher the concentration of ALA in breast tissue, the lower the risk of manifesting breast cancer. Moreover, if the breast cancer arises, the higher the breast tissue concentration of ALA, the lower the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Flax up the family meals with these nutty tasting seeds—in their ground or milled form—as coatings, breadings, garnishes, and toppings for morning cereals. Ground or milled flaxseeds are also great blended in a morning smoothie or green drink.  Use them on sweet potatoes, squash, or yams and in soups, salads, and casseroles or whatever you can dream up in your kitchen!

Flax is smart “medicine” for the entire family.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Amy G.

    Is 2 – 4 T of flaxseed oil equal to 2 – 4 T of ground flaxseed?


  2. Kim

    Does ground flaxseeds also help a woman with too much testosterone?

  3. Sarah Wright

    I have a chlld diagnosed with ADHD and I’d like to correct the mistaken impression that people generally have that Ritalin is “handed out like candy.” I know a lot of other parents of children with ADHD and in every case medication if at all was very conservatively and carefully considered. The truth is that no one really jumps to have their kid medicated and all the doctors I’ve either met or heard of are leery of doing it and usually do it only as a last resort. I’m dismayed to find it on this website because I really respect Ann Louise Gittelman and her research and writing. On another note, I have also heard that though there are a lot of Omega 3s in flax seed, it’s not all that bioavailable to the body, so it’s really not that good a source of it, and if you’re trying to get more Omega 3s into your system it’s much better to eat fish oil, krill oil, and get it that way. I wonder if ALG would comment on that.

  4. Maria

    Are chia seeds, hemp seed hearts, pumpkin seeds good alternatives for flax seed? In the old days, flax seed / oil was not always looked upon so favorably due to certain anti nutritive factors … could you comment on this … is it really ok to take flax day after day?? We have been using it regularly but this nagging question keeps coming back.

  5. Dana

    I would like to ditto Sarah’s question regarding the bioavailability of the Omega 3s in flax seed and to add that I’ve heard several times that the ability to convert the Omega’s 3s into a form that is beneficial to the brain is found to be more compromised in many individuals with ADHD.

  6. Sarah

    I purchase flaxseeds at my local health food store grind in a coffee grinder and then refridgerate. Is this any different than the cold milled flaxseeds?

    How will I know if what I purchase at the health food strore is the SDG seeds?

  7. Administrator

    Amy – 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed are equivalent to 1 tablespoon of the oil but the oil does not contain the high amount of lignans nor fiber found in the seed. All the anti-cancer studies have been done on the seeds.
    Kim – We do not know whether the ground flaxseed helps women with high testosterone but we do know from many anecdotal reports that saw palmetto is helpful in lowering high T.
    Sarah W. – It is true that in some individuals – especially adults – it is more difficult to convert the alpha linolenic acid in flaxseeds into bioavailable Omega 3s. The only way to truly know which Omega 3 is best for your child is by taking an Omega 3 profile which identifies the effectiveness of both flaxseed and fish oil. We are familiar with the Omega 3 test which is provided by Your Future Health and suggest that their test may be helpful for your child.
    Maria – Flaxseed – unlike hemp, chia,and pumpkin – are a rich source of the hormone modulating lignans. These are healthful too but do not function like flax.
    Dana — Please see our answer to Sarah W.
    Sarah – Ask Liz at UNI KEY to read you the label of the Omega Nutrition flaxseeds regarding the SDG levels and use that as your guide. ALG believes that the organic Omega Nutrition has the finest flaxseed oil and flaxseeds of all the brand out there and is the pioneering flax company.

    • Administrator

      With regard to the question about krill oil – we simply haven’t seen the same plethora of reserach supporting krill oil for ADHD as we have for flax or fish 🙂 Thank you Sarah W. for your comments. We will share with ALG!

  8. Fatima

    What if someone has a thyroid problem (low), can we still consume flaxseed? should
    we toast the cold milled flaxseed? and if so, for how long. Thank you.

  9. Administrator

    Fatima — Toasting flaxseeds – regardless of the source – would be a good idea if you are at all concerned about your thyroid. The presence of cyanogenic glycosides in flaxseeds can over time impact the thyroid’s uptake of iodine in sensitive individuals.

    • Theresa

      would using freshly ground flaxseeds in baked muffins offer the same benefit as toasting them?

      • liz

        That should take care of it.

  10. Valerie

    I have a recipe for “flax wrap” that is wonderful, however it is made in the microwave. Would microwaving “kill” the benefits of flaxseeds?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This