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Mayo Clinic Q&A: the benefits of flaxseed; set a pace for jogging success

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FLAXSEED BRINGS BENEFITS

I've heard that adding flaxseed to my diet could improve my health. How should I take it?

Flaxseed is high in fiber and is a rich source of a plant-based type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. It also contains other beneficial nutrients, antioxidant phytochemicals and numerous other vitamins and minerals.

Flaxseed commonly is used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation, but it also may help lower total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Ground flaxseed is easier to digest than whole flaxseed. Whole flaxseed may pass through your intestine undigested, which means you won't get its full nutritional benefit. Flaxseed supplements are available but usually contain only one element of flaxseed nutrition, such as the alpha-linolenic acid-rich oil. Flaxseed oil is also available. It has more alpha-linolenic acid than ground flaxseed, but it doesn't contain all the nutrients of ground flaxseed.

The best way to incorporate flaxseed into your diet is by adding 1 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your snacks and meals each day.

Unripe and raw flaxseed can have toxins that may be harmful in high doses. Consider toasting, cooking or baking the flaxseed.

Flaxseed is available at many grocery and health food stores. Whole seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder and stored in an airtight container. To preserve the taste and health benefits, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer and grind it just before using.

Flaxseed should be taken with plenty of water or other fluids and shouldn't be taken at the same time as oral medications or other dietary supplements. As always, talk with your doctor before trying any dietary supplements.

Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.N, L.D., Endocrinology/Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

(Adapted from Mayo Clinic Health Letter)

SET THE PACE FOR SUCCESS

Just 30 to 60 minutes of weekly jogging can add up to substantial health benefits. If you're considering jogging, here are some tips:

Check with your doctor: Ask if it's okay to try jogging. This is especially important if you have a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Develop baseline fitness: Work up to being able to walk 150 minutes a week. Then try adding brief bouts, such as one minute, of faster walking throughout your walk.

Dress for the occasion: It likely will be worth it to purchase a pair of comfortable and supportive walking or running shoes. It also will be more comfortable to wear clothing that's lighter and looser than street clothing. Because you'll be producing heat, you can dress in lighter clothing for jogging than for walking.

Take it slow: Start by walking. After five to 10 minutes, try jogging for a minute, or even 30 seconds, then return to a walking pace to finish the session. Over days, weeks and months, gradually incorporate additional 30-second or one-minute bouts of jogging into your walk, or lengthen the bouts of jogging until you reach five to 10 minutes of jogging most days, or longer on fewer days.

Avoid injury: Injury isn't as likely with easy jogging in small amounts. Further reduce injury risk by staying light on your feet and taking fairly quick steps — such as about 170 to 180 steps a minute. Work on running tall with good posture.

(Adapted from Mayo Clinic Health Letter)

Mayo Clinic Q & A is an educational resource and doesn't replace regular medical care. Email a question to MayoClinicQ&A@mayo.edu. For more information, visit mayoclinic.org. © 2017 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC. All rights reserved.

Mayo Clinic Q&A: the benefits of flaxseed; set a pace for jogging success 01/19/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 3:56pm]
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