When it comes to cilantro, you either absolutely love it, or you think it tastes like soap (we’ll get to that phenomenon later). Flax and cilantro are two very underestimated nutritional treasures, that should make their way to your table more often for many reasons, but new research suggests that they are both invaluable for helping women balance and restore healthy hormone levels.
Getting the Facts on Flax
A 2016 study published by Maryam S. Farvid, A. Heather Eliassen, Eunyoung Cho, Xiaomei Liao, Wendy Y. Chen, Walter C. Willett, “Dietary Fiber Intake in Young Adults and Breast Cancer Risk”, provided some very interesting insights. More than 90,000 premenopausal women completed a questionnaire in 1991, and were reengaged in a follow-up to the study, twenty-years later. While fiber is healthy for everyone, the average American starts to think about dietary fiber later in life; typically, after the age of forty. The new research suggests that children and adolescents should be encouraged to eat high-fiber diets. When fiber is consumed at adequate levels throughout youth, adults demonstrate a lower rate of breast cancer.
The study revealed that naturally occurring fibers, like those derived from fruits, vegetables and fresh nuts were more soluble by the body, and provided more benefit. Flax seed (or linseed) has been used since the eras of ancient Egypt and China for health benefits, which include:
Women who have recurrent candida infection, should talk to their primary care provider, about incorporating more dietary flax, as part of a treatment plan. Flax seeds are figuratively packed with antioxidants called Lignans, which are polyphenols that help promote anti-aging, cellular health and hormone balance for women. Lignans also offer anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits, particularly for individuals who are immunocompromised. In one particular study, flax was identified as estrogenic, and linked to lowered rates of osteoporosis, cholesterol and other health risks.
In one study published in Nutrition Reviews, the research indicated that women are 2.5 times more able to process healthy omega-3 fats than men. The omega-3 found in flax seeks contains ALAs, which is an easily digestible type of beneficial fat, and since women are better able to absorb it, and converted into EPA, flax should be an important regular part of dietary nutrition for women (of all ages). The taste of flax does not lend itself to being eat alone, unless you are brave (try it, you’ll see what we mean), but it can be incorporated easily into recipes including smoothies, milled into a high-fiber flour substitute, or sprinkled on rice or cereal, to boost the nutritional value of the meal. Flax is also an effective way to fill up on protein, and the seed is gluten free.
Also known as coriander in many parts of the world, cilantro is a centerpiece in both Mediterranean and Asian diets, but is used as a seasoning for edibles around the globe. Both the seeds and the actual leaves are used in cooking, and ancient civilizations believed it had powerful medicinal qualities. Coriandrum sativum is packed with nutrients and qualifies as a super food. The herb is high in antioxidants and essential oils and vitamins. As an antioxidant dietary resource, both the leaves and the seeds contain bomeol, linalool (anti-anxiety), cymene, di-penten, phellandrene, terpinolene and cineol. Each essential oil offers medicinal benefits, but bomeol has bee used for the treatment of infections, mouth and throat sores, psoriasis, eye diseases, and the management of pain and inflammation. Many lung disease pharmaceutical treatments contain bomeol, and it is believed to have a positive impact on respiratory and tracheal health.
Flavonoids are one of the most unsung dietary super hero’s. They are found in nutrient rich foods, and there are more than 6,000 scientifically categorized types of them (so far) that the medical community has identified; most with far reaching health benefits. Cilantro has high concentrated levels of four flavonoids; quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and apigenin. These four types are known for anti-inflammatory properties, benefiting nervous system and cardiovascular health. Some studies have linked high levels of flavonoids to a reduction in the risk of developing lung and breast cancer.
The herb is a powerhouse, natural edible source of vitamin-A, providing about 225% of the recommended daily intake in a small 100g serving! Additionally, cilantro provides 30% of the recommended daily value for vitamin-C, and 258% of vitamin-K RDA’s. Vitamin-K is essential as a component in building bone strength and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and is also used in the symptom treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Cilantro when eaten raw (seeds or leaves) is also a rich source of potassium, manganese (responsible for producing the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase). The amazing herb also delivers (per 100g serving) 22% of RDA’s for iron, 15% folates, 11% of vitamin B-6 RDA, for only 23 calories. An impressive (and tasty) shortcut to essential nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and naturally occurring medicinal oils, wrapped up in a small green herb that many people find delicious. Both flax and cilantro offer substantial dietary benefit, and are versatile enough to be used frequently in family favorite meals. Think about how you could incorporate both more frequently in your diet, to live well.
And why does cilantro taste like ‘soap’ to some people? Scientists have found that people who are repulsed by the taste of cilantro, share the same olfactory-receptor genese called OR6A2, which enables them to detect the aldehyde chemicals in cilantro. Aldehyde is also used in soap and detergent manufacturing (so now you know). What are the differences between micronutrients and macronutrients?