A "hot" ingredient in foods targeted to women, scientists are teasing out three potentially beneficial compounds in flax: plant based omega 3 fats, fiber, and disease-fighting compounds called lignans. A Mayo Clinic study finds 40 grams of crushed flaxseed can cut down on hot flashes, and several reports suggest flax can lower "bad" or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (Interestingly, in one Chinese study, the cholesterol-lowering impact was more pronounced in women.) The brown or gold seeds may even play a role in fighting breast cancer. One caution: if you're pregnant or nursing, some experts suggest avoiding flax until more studies are done.
The right dose: 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day since whole seeds aren't readily digested.