One in ten women suffer from PCOS, an endocrine-metabolic disease that causes hormonal imbalance. This can lead to acne, weight gain, unwanted hair growth, irregular periods, and fertility issues.
Although there is no cure yet, you can manage PCOS and its symptoms with a balanced diet, which includes fiber-rich foods like flaxseeds.
Tiny golden or brown flaxseeds are a magical food for women with PCOS due to their hormone balancing abilities. While conventional medications and treatments also help, flaxseeds may be a safe and all-natural remedy for PCOS.
Flax seeds: an overview
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, which makes them beneficial in the treatment of PCOS. The high levels of fiber, lignans, and antioxidants in flaxseeds help control hormones, making them incredibly effective at managing PCOS symptoms.
You can eat flax seeds directly or use them as an ingredient in salads, cereals, milkshakes and smoothies. You can also take flaxseed powdered, in capsules, or mixed with regular flour to help prevent diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer.
Flaxseed and PCOS: the positive connection
If you have PCOS, your ovaries produce too many male hormones, which can cause a variety of symptoms, including acne, excessive hair growth, irregular or painful periods, and reproductive problems.
Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based chemicals that can help balance hormones and can help reduce androgen levels in your body.
According to a study, flaxseed supplementation for 12 weeks may help reduce body weight, waist circumference and BMI in women with PCOS. Obesity is a leading cause of PCOS, and flaxseed supplementation can help reduce visceral (abdominal) fat and increase fat oxidation in skeletal muscle.
Another one study says that taking 15 grams of flaxseed powder in milk every morning for three months can reduce the number of follicles in polycystic ovaries and improve menstrual cycles.
How can flax seeds help with PCOS?
While PCOS treatments like anti-androgens, hypoglycemic agents, and combination pills can have serious side effects like painful periods, menstrual irregularities, gastrointestinal upset, weight gain, and other problems, flaxseed apparently has no such side effects. However, overconsumption of flax seeds can have a laxative effect.
Adding flaxseed to your diet can naturally improve PCOS and improve your reproductive health. Here’s how flaxseeds can benefit people with PCOS.
Promotes weight loss
If you are obese, you may be at risk for PCOS. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is key to controlling PCOS symptoms. Flaxseeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which can help with weight loss.
Fiber is digested slowly, which makes you feel full longer and lowers your calorie intake. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help boost your metabolism, aiding weight loss.
Reduces cholesterol levels
Studies show that women with PCOS are more likely to have high cholesterol. Rising cholesterol levels can increase your risk of developing heart disease. It is therefore essential to modify your diet to control your cholesterol levels.
Flax seeds contain high amounts of lignans, which are polyphenolic compounds. Lignans promote the elimination of excess cholesterol and prevent its absorption into the bloodstream. Regular consumption of lignans lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, in the body.
Support hormonal balance
Flaxseeds are high in lignans (phytoestrogens), a natural plant-based form of estrogen. Lignans can help your body eliminate extra androgens produced by the ovaries and balance the level of female hormones, which could help your menstrual cycle become more regular.
Limits unwanted hair growth
One of the most unpleasant symptoms of PCOS is excessive hair growth in unwanted places, especially on the face and chest. By regulating testosterone levels and reducing symptoms related to hyperandrogenism such as hirsutism, regular use of flaxseed can help you limit unwanted hair growth.
The HealthifyMe rating
Flaxseed, taken in seed or powder form, may improve the androgen profile in women with PCOS. Approximately 12 weeks’ supplementation of 15–30 g/day flaxseed powder manages insulin metabolism, body composition, and inflammation in women with PCOS. However, talk to your doctor to determine safe dosages.
Ways to eat flax seeds for PCOS
You can have flax seeds at any time of the day, depending on your preference. However, having flaxseed in the morning can increase your metabolism and boost digestion. Also, limit yourself to 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day.
Here are some other PCOS-friendly tips to follow:
- A simple approach to taking flax seeds is to add them to your morning roti and pancake batter.
- Add 2-3 teaspoons of flax seeds to your smoothies to boost their nutritional value and flavor.
- Add flax seeds to your salads and breakfast cereals.
- Grind flax seeds and add them to sauces and curries.
- Prepare a trail mix with roasted flax seeds, pumpkin and Sun-flower seeds for additional benefits.
PCOS is a complex disease that has no known cure. However, it can be successfully managed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
Additionally, flaxseeds, of which one should consume about 1-2 tablespoons daily, can help reduce male hormone levels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels in women with PCOS.