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Flaxseed

Adding flaxseed to everyday recipes may reduce prostate cancer risks

—M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has unique tips about how to incorporate flaxseed into everyday recipes. Flaxseed, research shows, might reduce prostate cancer risks.

“It’s the omega-3 fatty acids and the lignan present in flaxseed that led us to look at flaxseed’s prostate cancer prevention properties,” says Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., professor of behavioral science at M.D. Anderson and head researcher for a recent study on flaxseed’s potential role as a power food.

When using flaxseed in recipes, keep an open mind. It’s easier to make flaxseed a daily dietary staple when it is consumed in a variety of creative ways.

Here are some easy ways to get going with flaxseed:

  • Try crackers or tortilla chips with flaxseed baked in. They have a pleasant nutty taste.
  • Add ground flaxseed to cookies, muffins, or cornbread recipes. Its mild and nutty flavor tastes great in peanut butter cookies, or in almost any baked good.
  • Add ground flaxseed to yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Sprinkle flaxseed over your salad, or mix it into salad dressing.
  • Sprinkle flaxseed over oatmeal, cold cereal, or grits.
  • Mix flaxseed into pancake or waffle batter. It also perks up your maple syrup.
  • Stir ground flaxseed into juice, water, sports drinks, or smoothies.
  • Sprinkle flaxseed over soup.
  • Stir flaxseed into applesauce, jellies, and jams.
  • Mix flaxseed in with low-fat mayonnaise before putting it on a sandwich.

Research shows that cancer risks, including the risk for prostate cancer, may be reduced by thirty to forty percent if people eat a more plant-based diet. This healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds—including flaxseed.

“Cancer cells migrate by attaching onto other cells. The omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed keep cells from binding together and attaching to blood vessels,” Demark-Wahnefried says. “Lignan may reduce testosterone and other hormone levels. Lowering testosterone levels may reduce a man’s chances of getting prostate cancer.”

Demark-Wahnefried and her team learned about the potential cancer-reducing benefits of flaxseed during a study with 161 men. The men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but had not started treatment. Each participant ate three tablespoons of flaxseed a day. This study and its results were published in the December 2008 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

“While our study used three tablespoons a day, men who don’t have cancer but want to try flaxseed probably don’t need that much,” Demark-Wahnefried says. “One tablespoon a day should be fine.”

How to prepare, store, and buy flaxseed

Flaxseed is sometimes difficult to digest in its whole form, but can be easily ground up and used in a variety of dishes. Try using a coffee grinder or a blender to grind flaxseed. The European way to prepare the seed is to soak it in water until the seeds break.

Grinding flaxseed makes it more digestible and increases the amount of nutrients absorbed. While the inside of the seed is the nutritional powerhouse, the outside provides most of the seed’s fiber.

Store unused portions of ground flaxseed in a tightly sealed container and keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place, like the refrigerator or freezer, to keep it from spoiling. Whole flaxseed can be stored for at least a month. When the seed is ground, it is best to use within a few days.

A sometimes forgotten plant-based food, flaxseed is nutritious, low-cost, and readily available on grocery store shelves. Stores sell the seed in bulk, retailing for only a few dollars a pound, and as an ingredient in crackers, chips, and baked goods. The stalk of the flax plant is actually used to make linen.

Although the idea of eating a product used to make your favorite summer pants might sound unappetizing, flaxseed’s mild, nutty flavor is relatively easy to add into your diet. For additional information, including flaxseed recipes, visit http://www.mdanderson.org/focused.


The Healthy Geezer

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

Flu season in the northern hemisphere can range from as early as November to as late as May. The peak month usually is February.

However, this coming season is expected to be unpredictable because of the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus or swine flu. The H1N1 has caused the first global outbreak—or pandemic—of influenza in more than four decades.

There is concern that the 2009 H1N1 virus may make the season worse than a regular flu season. It is feared that there will be many more hospitalizations and fatalities this season. The 2009 H1N1 virus caused illness in the U.S. during the summer months when influenza is very uncommon.

The 2009-10 flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. The seasonal vaccine is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus. A vaccine for 2009 H1N1 is being produced and may be ready for the public in the fall.

The 2009-10 vaccine can be administered anytime during flu season. However, the best time to get inoculated is October-November. The protection provided by the vaccine lasts about a year. Adults over fifty are prime candidates for the vaccine because the flu can be fatal for people in this age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to twenty percent of the population gets the flu each year.

The CDC reports vaccination rates are better for those over sixty-five. About seven in ten seniors get their flu shots. You can get the flu vaccine from your doctor, at public health centers, senior centers, pharmacies, and supermarkets.

For more than four decades, the flu vaccine has been strongly recommended for older people, but now some scientists say the vaccine probably doesn’t work well for those over seventy. About seventy-five percent of flu deaths happen to people in this age group.

Flu is a contagious illness of the respiratory system caused by the influenza virus. Flu can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear problems, and dehydration.

Droplets from coughing and sneezing spread the flu. An adult with flu can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. Children may spread flu for more than seven days.

The best way to combat the bug is to get the flu vaccine. You have to get inoculated annually because new vaccines are prepared every year to combat new versions of the virus. When you battle the flu, you develop antibodies to the invading virus, but those antibodies don’t work on new strains. The vaccine does not prevent flu in all people; it works better in younger recipients than older ones.

Contrary to rumor, you can’t catch the flu from the vaccine. The flu vaccine is not made from a live virus.

The recovery time for the flu is about one to two weeks. However, in seniors, weakness may persist for a longer time.

The common scenario for flu is a sudden onset of symptoms, which include chills, fatigue, fever, cough, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscle aches, and appetite loss.

While nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be related to the flu, these are rarely the primary flu symptoms. The flu is not a stomach or intestinal disease. The term stomach flu is inaccurate.

When symptoms strike, get to a doctor as soon as possible; the faster the better. There are prescription antiviral drugs to treat flu. Over-the-counter medicines can help relieve symptoms of the flu. You should also drink liquids to prevent dehydration, and sleep to bolster your immune system.

If you have a question, please write to fred@healthygeezer.com.

 

     

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