One way to maximize your efforts in the gym and in the kitchen is to ensure you’re always getting enough quality protein. Most gym-going guys know that. But a lot of fit dudes often make the mistake of neglecting fiber, another important dietary staple.

Fortunately, there's a natural, diet-friendly product that offers both: flaxseed, which is available through supplement tablets, as well as in ground and oil forms. And if that's not convincing enough, here are six more reasons to work flaxseed into your regular diet:

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1. Reducing Hypertension

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in three Americans (68 million) has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80. (If you consistently exceed these numbers, talk to your doctor.) Fortunately, flaxseed oil should also be able to help, according to Greek researchers. In their 12-week study of 59 middle-aged men, they discovered that flaxseed oil consumption resulted in significantly lowered blood pressure readings. Consider adding flaxseed oil to your diet and you may be saving yourself—literally—from the headaches associated with hypertension.

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2. Skin Cancer

Research has proven just how damaging regular tanning is to your skin. But if your inner sun worshipper can’t be contained, it might be smart to consume flaxseed (on top of regular sunscreen application). Omaha researchers found that mice that received flaxseed supplements were able to reduce melanoma tumors by as much as 63%.

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3. Depression

It’s true: Depression hurts. There are plenty of antidepressants that doctors may prescribe, but according to a Japanese study, simply adding flaxseed to your diet may also prove useful. Their study found that patients with significant depression levels also suffered from lower levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids—the same acids that are found in various foods like fish, walnuts, and flax. Eat up, the theory goes, and it might help correct those imbalances.

 

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4. Liver Disease

Are you living a healthy and fit lifestyle, yet still can’t shake the alcohol consumption? Just like any self-destructive behavior, you may be putting yourself at great risk. One very serious possibility is liver disease. Fortunately, for those who can’t seem to help themselves, there may be a way to decrease the risk factors involved with liver disease. Recent research conducted on 30 men found that those receiving flaxseed lignan capsules effectively reduced their liver disease risk factors. They concluded that 100 mg supplementation could be beneficial. (Of course, a better idea would be to stop drinking.)

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5. Cholesterol

Are you suffering from high cholesterol? Left untreated, your arteries could become clogged, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Studies indicate that flaxseed can help. Interestingly enough, according to Iowa State University researchers, it only has the ability to lower the cholesterol of men. So, while researchers caution that it cannot match the cholesterol-lowering effects of prescription medication, if you’re looking for a drug-free, relatively inexpensive way to treat your problem, consider taking flaxseed lignan tablets or sprinkling some ground flaxseed overtop of your meals. 

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6. Prostate Cancer

Another male-exclusive benefit of flaxseed is its ability to assist in the fight against prostate cancer. In the United States, there were 241,740 newly reported cases and 28,170 prostate cancer related deaths in 2012. With such ominous numbers, it’s no wonder researchers continue to search for ways to combat it. One study of 161 pre-surgery prostate cancer patients found that flaxseed appears to significantly reduce cancer cell creation rates. How? Another study indicates it’s likely because flaxseed has the ability to disrupt the events leading to cancerous cell production. 

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