What do flax seeds do to your body?

Here’s how flaxseeds help in reducing weight

Among all the reliable methods of weight loss, flaxseeds are one of the most effective foods that help you lose extra kilos. Enriched with fibre, Omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants, flaxeeds increase your body’s efficiency to lose weight. These tiny brown seeds with distinct flavour are obtained from the flax plant, whose fibre is used to produce linen.
How flaxseeds help in weight loss?

Dietary Fibre
Flaxseeds are a great source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is classified into two categories- soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber produces a gel-like substance which when encounters the digestive juices and water, slows down the food absorption in your colon and in turn, makes you feel fuller for a longer time. The insoluble fiber helps in promoting the good gut bacteria which aids digestive health and increases your metabolic rate.
Essential Fatty Acids
The reason they are referred to as essential fatty acids are that they can only be obtained from healthy food sources. Flaxseeds are loaded with two essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. These essential fatty acids obtained from flaxseeds are converted to phospholipids, an integral part of the cell membrane structure. Once we ingest them, omega-3 and omega-6-fatty acids get converted to prostaglandin, which balances the metabolism. Prostaglandins derived from omega-3 fatty acids help in reducing inflammation. Inflammation can induce weight gain as it can increase oxidative stress.
Proteins
Flaxseeds are rich in proteins. So, when you consume a teaspoon of flaxseeds, along with dietary fiber, the protein content suppresses your appetite. This prevents you from overeating, thereby helping you in losing weight.
Low Carb
Flaxseeds are low in starch and sugar, hence they are not high on calories. Eating them regularly is good for your health and helps in losing weight.
Antioxidants
Antioxidants, which are also called lignans are abundant in flaxseeds. Though they don’t have a direct link to weight loss, but they enhance the cell functioning as your body burns fat. Lignans also provide nutritional support and protects against free radicals.
This is how you can use flaxseeds to lose weight.
Not many of us know that ground flaxseeds or milled flaxseeds are more effective for losing weight. This is because the whole flaxseeds make it difficult for the digestive system to absorb all the nutrients present in them. On the other hand, ground flaxseeds are easily absorbed and there are more chances that you get the essential fats, proteins and dietary fiber present in them.
How much flaxseeds are required to lose weight?
As flaxseeds are nutrient-rich, a tablespoon is enough. According to the health experts, one tablespoon of flaxseeds per day helps in losing weight. This also improves your overall health.
How to eat flaxseeds?
Sprinkle a few flaxseeds seeds over a cold cereal. You can also stir it into hot cereal like oatmeal.
You can also add 1 tablespoon of flax seeds into your smoothie.

You can also use flaxseed oil to make an omega-3-packed vinaigrette for any salad.
Use flaxseeds in the dressing of tuna, chicken or egg salad.
Garnish soups with a tablespoon of ground flax seed. They will give you a slight nutty flavour and delicious crunch.
Stir some ground flax seeds into a hearty casserole, chili or stew.
Add ground flax seeds to the batter of muffins, breads, cookies, and cakes.
A few other benefits of flaxseeds
They are cholesterol free and hence are good for the heart as well.
They are a good source of fiber, aid in digestion and prevent constipation.
Flaxseeds contain some other nutrients as well as protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, omega 3 and lignin.
Regular consumption of flax seeds is good for your skin.
Flaxseeds also prevent cancer and facilitate weight-loss.
The lignans present in them help in combating high levels of estrogen. This also helps in maintaining balanced hormonal levels.
Flaxseeds also promote healthy hair.
They are also associated with reducing hypertension.
They are low in LDL (lipo-protein) or bad cholesterol.

When it comes to food, the tiniest of changes can make a huge difference to our health. And introducing flax seeds in your diet will definitely help you lead a healthier life.

Linum usitatissimum or flax seeds are highly nutritious. They aid in weight loss, improve memory and keep your system active.
But how you add them to your diet and how exactly are they beneficial? Here are the answers!

Want to make your breakfast healthier?

What do flaxseeds do to your body?

Flax seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are made of 42 per cent healthy fats, 29 per cent good carbs, 18 per cent proteins and 7 per cent water. They contain copper, magnesium, Molybdenum, phosphorus and Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) too!
One tablespoon (or 10 gm) of the Linum usitatissimum seeds contains:

  • 1.9 gm proteins
  • 1.8 gm of plant Omega 3s
  • 55 calories
  • 4.3 gm fats
  • 3 gm carbohydrates
  • 2.8 gm fibre

What are the benefits of the seeds?

  1. The fibre content of the Linum usitatissimum seeds makes you feel full for a long time and also eases your digestive process. So if you add them to your breakfast, you won’t feel hungry until lunchtime. No need for oily snacks then!
  2. Studies have shown that regular consumption of flax seeds for about 6 months successfully lowers diastolic and systolic blood pressure significantly (by 7mmHg and 10mmHg respectively), thus reducing your chances of a stroke.
  3. Flax seeds protein contains good amounts of amino acids like arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. All three are associated with improved immunity.
  4. The fatty acids – omega 3 and 6 in the flax seeds will give you a stronger heart, sharper brain, and may reduce risk of depression. What’s more, it can add a glow to your skin!
  5. Lignans (anti-oxidants) in the seeds slow down the ageing of your body by curbing the free radicals. Regular intake of flax seeds provides adequate amounts of these antioxidants.
  6. Flax seeds have low starch and sugar. So all in all, if you have them for breakfast, you feel full for a long time without consuming many calories. Win-win?
  7. Flax seeds are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid which helps the functions of your cerebral cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for the processing of information – so the seeds actually improve your memory!

How do you eat Linum usitatissimum seeds?

  • Cereal-eaters can add a spoonful of ground flax seeds to their breakfast.
  • If you eat oats or granola, that’s a healthy start already! Just add ground Linum usitatissimum seeds and you will have taken the first meal of your day a notch higher.
  • You can also pop a jaggery, and flax seeds laddu during those midday hunger pangs. !
  • Soak the seeds in water overnight and your morning power drink is ready.
  • Do you frequently have smoothies or milkshakes? Grind these seeds and add them to your drink for a quick power boost! !

Also Read: Easy to Make and Good for You: How to Make Protein Bars in Simple Steps

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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Tiny Flaxseed Has Many Hidden Health Benefits

Although it’s been cultivated and used in food for centuries, flaxseed’s superpowers have only recently become widely known. What the evidence suggests so far, however, is truly exciting.

Turns out, the bioactive compounds in the seeds of the flax plant may aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, promoting weight loss, reducing skin roughness and dryness, and possibly staving off breast cancer, according to a research review published in the May 2019 issue of the journal Nutrients.

Flaxseed’s powerful nutrients, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), include:

  • Fiber Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps fill you up and keeps food moving smoothly through the digestive tract.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids Flaxseed is a mega-source of the plant version of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is key to fighting inflammation. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that teen boys and men consume 1.6 grams (g) of ALA daily and teen girls and women 1.1 g. According to the Mayo Clinic, 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of ground flaxseed provides 4 g of fatty acids, including omega-3s.
  • Phytochemicals Including lignans, a form of phytoestrogens, these are plant-based compounds that are similar to the hormone estrogen. In fact, flaxseed is one of the best sources of lignans around, says clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas, certified nutritionist and author of Wild Mediterranean: The Age-Old, Success-New Plan for a Healthy Gut With Foods You Can Trust.
  • Minerals Calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all minerals that your body needs for almost everything it does, including proper kidney, heart, nerve, and bone function, per National Institutes of Health experts.

Flaxseed’s Potential Total-Body Health Benefits

Flaxseed may also do the following:

  • Lower Blood Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Animal studies suggest that the ALA in flaxseed lowers inflammation, which may lower cholesterol, helping to prevent the buildup of plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack, according to the article in Nutrients.
  • Help Control Blood Sugar One 12-week study published May 9, 2018, in Nutrition & Metabolism found that consuming 10 g of flaxseed daily reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, most likely because of the seed’s high fiber content, which aids in weight loss and slows digestion and therefore the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Aid In Weight Loss One reason is that flax’s soluble fiber expands when ingested, making you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Although there is no proof that it would work in humans, another animal study published in the March 1, 2019, issue of American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism found that the breakdown of flaxseed fibers in the gut alters beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract in ways that may help protect against diet-induced obesity.
  • Improve Digestion The fiber in flaxseed can help relieve constipation and make you more regular, according to the Nutrition & Metabolism study cited above.
  • Fight Cancer Flaxseed’s omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to decrease the risk of breast cancer and possibly slow tumor growth in patients who already have the disease, suggested research published online February 7, 2018, in Frontiers in Nutrition.

Is Flaxseed Safe or Are There Any Downsides?

Because of the estrogen-like effects of flaxseed’s lignans, some concern has been raised that consuming it could interfere with estrogen-blocking breast cancer drugs, such as tamoxifen. However, animal studies do not support those fears, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

That said, flaxseed may affect the absorption of some medication, so it’s best to consume it one hour before or two hours after taking any nonprescription or prescription drug, the Mayo Clinic recommends. It’s also wise to avoid large amounts of flaxseed products during pregnancy and to consult your healthcare provider if you are using birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy or are taking anticoagulant or anti-platelet drugs.

Buying and Using Flaxseed: What You Need to Know

Flaxseed is easily found on the shelves of many conventional and health food stores as ground flaxseed, whole seed, or flaxseed oil. Ground flaxseed delivers the most benefit because grinding the tough seed coat makes its nutrients more available to your body. Metsovas suggests buying flaxseed whole, then grinding it before you use it. “Because flax is a seed that contains fat,” she adds, “purchasing a product that’s already ground could make the fat prone to oxidation,” an undesirable chemical reaction that can alter the flavor and smell of the food.

You can easily grind flaxseed in a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender. There’s no nutritional difference between yellow and brown flaxseed; it’s just a matter of preference. Kept at room temperature, whole flaxseed should last more than a year. Ground flaxseed should be kept in an opaque, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 45 days.

Because flaxseed is high in fiber, start with small amounts when adding it to your diet and increase it slowly to 1 or 2 tbsp per day. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed has about 37 calories while 1 tbsp of whole flaxseed has about 55 calories.

How to Get More Flaxseed in Your Diet

Adding flaxseed’s light, nutty taste to your favorite foods is a great way to boost the fiber and nutrient content of your diet. Here are suggestions from HealthyFlax.org on ways to add it to foods you already eat and enjoy:

  • Sprinkle flaxseed on cold cereal or hot oatmeal at breakfast.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed to mustard or mayonnaise before spreading them on sandwiches.
  • Blend flaxseed into smoothies.
  • Toss salads with whole flaxseed or blend ground flaxseed into your salad dressings.
  • Top your fruit and yogurt with 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed.
  • Use ground flaxseed to thicken tomato sauces and soups.

How To Eat Flaxseeds? Health Benefits, Tips And Recipes

These shiny, nutty seeds have an earthy aroma and a host of health benefiting properties. I first came across this wonder seed while reading up on hair health. Experts seem to agree that if you need some help with hair fall and want to grow your hair, there is nothing like a regular dose of flaxseeds. Initially, I had a little difficulty in cultivating taste for it in its raw form, but my love for it grew after a while. You don’t really need to load up on flaxseeds, a little helping is enough. Experts and nutritionists recommend a tablespoon of flaxseeds a day to meet your essential, daily nutritional requirement. However, you need to be watchful of the way you consume flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are brown in colour and come with a hard, crunchy covering. Flaxseeds, if not chewed properly would render no benefit to your body, this is one of the biggest reasons why many like to soak it before consuming or simply have it in the ground or powdered form. The benefits of flaxseeds are in abundance.

Here Are Some Benefits Of Flaxseeds

These nutty delights come packed with a bevy of health benefits. “Flaxseeds are a great source of soluble mucilaginous (gumlike) fibre that can lower unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) and and balance blood sugar levels. It also acts like hunger suppressant and helps you feel full for long. Their high omega-3 fatty acids content can help lower undesirable fats (triglycerides) in the blood, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. flaxseeds are also good for eye health,” as mentioned in Dorling Kindersley’s book Healing Foods.

Flaxseeds are enriched with some of the most essential and basic nutrients that our body requires. These come enriched with fibre, protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, lignan among other nutrients and minerals. Lignans present in them help in battling high levels of estrogen and help in maintaining balanced hormonal levels. Since flaxseeds are energy-dense with great satiety value, these make you feel full and therefore facilitate weight management.
Flaxseeds are great for women’s health, regular consumption may help reduce menopausal symptoms and can also help tackling irregular periods and menstruation-linked discomfort. Women should make the best out of these alsi seeds benefits.

Lignans present in flaxseeds help in battling high levels of estrogen and help in maintaining balanced hormonal levels.

How To Eat Flaxseeds?

There has been quite a lot of debate on how should one consume flaxseeds. It is true that flaxseeds, when not chewed properly, can go undigested, flushed out your system. Ground or milled flaxseeds, in that case, make a better choice. You can also opt for flaxseed oil to replace other oils in your cooking. We share with you, some of the easiest ways in which you can incorporate flaxseeds in your daily diet.
“If you buy whole flaxseeds, grind as needed and add to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, casseroles, and baked goods. Sprouting flaxseeds releases more of their protein and omega-3 fats,” as mentioned in Healing Foods.


Flaxseeds, when not chewed properly, can go undigested, flushed out your system.
Flaxseeds, when ground, get so versatile that you don’t even have to think twice to create a splendid array of delicacies. From rotis, parathas, pooris, breads, desserts, drinks to soups, salads, and what not, adding a tablespoon of flaxseeds can give any dish a healthy, nutty, toasty spin. Just in case you want a little push to start using flaxseeds in your regular cooking, we have got some of the simplest and fuss-free recipes for you to get started.
Interesting Flaxseeds Recipes
1. Grilled Peach and Papaya Salad with Amaranth Granola Recipe
Recipe by Shamsul Wahid, Smoke House
The goodness of fresh peaches and papaya meets the crunchiness of granola made of flaxseeds, amaranth and other health-loaded ingredients.
2. Flaxseed Smoothie
Recipe by Dr. Gargi Sharma
Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 cup flavored soya milk
  • 1 cup chilled and roughly chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chilled and roughly chopped bananas
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Garnish: 2 strawberries and 2 bananas slices

Method:

  1. Add strawberries, bananas, flaxseeds and honey in soya milk, blend in a juicer till the mixture is smooth and frothy.
  2. Pour equal quantities of the smoothie into 2 individual glasses.
  3. Serve garnished with a strawberry and banana slice.


3. Flaxseed Raita
Recipe by Dr. Gargi Sharma
CommentsIngredients:

  • 1 cup bottle gourd, thickly grated
  • 1 cup low-fat curd, freshly beaten
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped (pudina)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp black salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp roasted and coarsely ground flaxseeds
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Combine the bottle guard with one cup of water. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 4 minutes.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, including the cooked bottle gourd in a deep bowl and mix well.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and serve chilled.

We’ll cut to the chase: As far as the nut and seed family goes, flaxseed is among the more high-maintenance members—and one of the most nutritious. These mildly nutty-flavored seeds have a relatively short shelf life and have to be chopped or ground before eating, but don’t let that deter you from seeking them out. Here’s how to incorporate flaxseed into everything from your morning oatmeal to quick breads for a fast health boost.

Types of flaxseed: Brown (left), ground flaxseed meal, and golden flaxseed. Photo: Flickr/alishav

Flickr/alishavWhat You Need to Know

Flaxseed is derived from the flax plant, which also yields fibers used to make linen fabrics. The flax plant also produces flaxseed oil, which is sold in both industrial- and food-grade forms. When shopping for flaxseed, you might come across golden and brown varieties—both taste lightly nutty, but brown flaxseed has a slightly earthier flavor.

The key thing to know about eating flaxseed is you need to grind it before you eat it. Nothing bad will happen if you ingest the whole seeds, but our bodies can’t naturally break them down to digest all the nutritional goodness bound within. To get the health benefits (more on that below!), you’ll either have to chop or grind whole flaxseed—a small spice or coffee grinder will do the trick. Only grind what you need, as flaxseed tends to spoil quickly once it’s ground. You can buy bags of pre-ground flaxseed meal at the store if you need the convenience factor, but it’s best to use up your supply quickly, as it can start to go rancid a few weeks after opening the package.

You can also opt to get your flax fill through bottled flaxseed oil, which is loaded with nutritious omega-3 fatty acids. An added bonus of flaxseed oil: It makes an excellent seasoning choice for your beloved cast-iron pans.

Chopped brown flaxseed gives these pancakes staying power. Photo: Kyle Johnson

Kyle JohnsonHow to Eat It

Unlike sunflower seeds or pepitas, flaxseed doesn’t make for the best eating straight outta the bag, since we can’t properly digest it whole. But it’s incredibly easy to add ground flaxseed to muffin, pancake, or waffle batter, as well as to bread dough. Blend ground flaxseed into smoothies and juices, or use it to top hot or cold cereal.

Flaxseeds have been consumed for at least 6,000 years, making them one of the world’s first cultivated superfoods. What does flaxseed do for you that makes it one of the most popular “superfoods”? Flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (although not the same type that fish, such as salmon, do) along with antioxidant substances called lignans that help promote hormonal balance in addition to several other benefits of flaxseed.

Benefits of flaxseed include helping improve digestion, skin, cardiovascular health, cholesterol and hormone balance while fighting cancer and even sugar cravings — and that’s just the beginning!

What Is Flaxseed?

Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds. In fact, linseed or “flax seed” are different names for the same seed. Flaxseeds are a great source of dietary fiber; minerals like manganese, thiamine and magnesium; and plant-based protein.

Flax is one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), in the world. Another unique fact about flaxseeds is that they are the No. 1 source of lignans in the human diets; flaxseed contain about seven times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds.

I highly recommend ground flaxseeds instead of whole flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are even more beneficial when sprouted and ground into flaxseed meal. Grinding flax helps you absorb both types of fiber it contains, along you to take advantage of even more of the benefits of flaxseed. Whole flaxseeds will pass right through your body without being digested, which means you will not receive many of the inherent benefits!

Additionally, flaxseeds are used to make flaxseed oil, which is easily digested and a concentrated source of healthy fats. Below you’ll find more about how to sprout and grind your own flaxseed, plus ideas for using all types of flax in recipes.

Another product of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) is linseed oil, which is boiled oil that’s used in oil-based paints, glazing putties (for windows) and as a wood grain protector/enhancer. Boiled linseed oil should never be taken internally.

Top 12 Flaxseed Benefits

1. High in Fiber But Low in Carbs

One of the most extraordinary benefits of flaxseed is that flax contains high levels of mucilage gum content, a gel-forming fiber that is water-soluble and therefore moves through the gastrointestinal tract undigested. Once eaten, mucilage from flaxseeds can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine, which can increase nutrient absorption and make you feel fuller. Because the fiber found in flaxseed is not able to be broken down in the digestive tract, some of the calories that flax contains won’t even be absorbed.

Flax is low in carbohydrates but extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means it also supports colon detoxification, may help with fat loss and can reduce sugar cravings. Most adults should aim to consume between 25–40 grams of fiber from high-fiber foods daily. Eating just two tablespoons of flaxseeds per day will provide about 20 percent to 25 percent of your fiber needs.

2. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We hear a lot about the health benefits of fish oil and omega-3 fats lately, which is one reason why flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds have become known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats obtained only from animal foods that are critical for optimal health. Although flaxseeds do not contain EPA or DHA, they do contain the type of omega-3 called ALA, which acts somewhat differently in the body compared to EPA/DHA.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been found in studies to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and hypertension, improve platelet function, reduce inflammation, promote healthy endothelial cell function, protect arterial function and reduce heart arrhythmias.

A study published in Nutrition Reviews has shown that approximately 20 percent of ALA can be converted into EPA, but only 0.5 percent of ALA is converted into DHA. Also, surprisingly gender may play a big role in how well ALA is converted; in the same study young women had a 2.5-fold greater conversion rate than men. Regardless of conversion, ALA is still considered a healthy fat and should be included in a balanced diet.

3. Helps Make Skin and Hair Healthy

Why is flaxseed good for your hair? Flaxseeds benefits for hair include making it shinier, stronger and more resistant to damage. The ALA fats in flaxseeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fatty acids as well as B vitamins, which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea and eczema. The same benefits also apply to eye health, as flax can help reduce dry eye syndrome due to its lubricating effects.

Flaxseed oil is another great option for your skin, nails, eyes and hair since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. If you want healthier skin, hair and nails, consider adding two tablespoons of flaxseeds to your smoothie or one tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your daily routine. You can take up to one to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil by mouth per day to hydrate your skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used topically as a natural skin moisturizer, since it seeps into your skin and reduces dryness.

4. Helps Lower Cholesterol and Treat Hyperlipidemia

A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flaxseeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of fat excreted through bowel movements. The soluble fiber content of flaxseed traps fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so it’s unable to be absorbed. Soluble flax fiber also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and therefore lowering cholesterol.

Hyperlipidemia is having an abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood, and it’s one of the most important risk factors of ischemic heart disease. Studies show that flaxseeds (not flaxseed oil) can significantly lower these lipids.

One 2015 study split 70 hyperlipidemia patients into two groups; the intervention group received 30 grams of raw flaxseed powder every day for 40 days. At the end of the study, their serum lipids were measured again. The group taking the flaxseed powder saw their serum lipids reduced. The authors concluded that “flaxseed may be regarded as a useful therapeutic food for reducing hyperlipidemia.”

5. Gluten-Free

Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains in recipes. Grains, especially those containing gluten, can be hard to digest for many people, but flax is usually easily metabolized and also anti-inflammatory.

Because flax can absorb a lot of liquid and help bind ingredients you’re using in cooking/baking recipes, but it does not contain any gluten, flaxseeds are a good choice for those who have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. As a gluten-free method of baking, I often use flaxseed along with coconut flour in recipes to add moisture, form a desirable texture and get some healthy fats. They are also a good alternative to getting omega-3 fats from fish for people with a seafood allergy (although if you don’t have an allergy to fish/seafood it’s still best to get DHA/EPA this way).

6. May Help Manage Diabetes

Flaxseed is well-known for its effects against blood sugar spikes, making it a potentially useful tool for diabetics. When diabetic subjects took one tablespoon of ground flax seeds daily for a month, they experienced a significant drop in fasting blood sugars, triglycerides, cholesterol and A1C level.

Flaxseeds may also improve insulin sensitivity in glucose intolerant people. After 12 weeks of flax, one study found a small but significant drop in insulin resistance.

7. High in Antioxidants (Lignans)

One of the greatest benefits of flaxseed is that it’s packed with antioxidants, specifically the type called lignans that are unique fiber-related polyphenols. Lignans provide us with antioxidants that help reduce free radical damage, therefore flax has anti-aging, hormonal-balancing and cellular-regenerating effects. They are found in unprocessed plant foods, including seeds, whole-grains, beans, berries and nuts. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor gut health, smoking, antibiotics and obesity, all affect circulating lignan levels in the body, which is why a nutrient-dense diet is important for restoring levels.

Lignans are considered natural “phytoestrogens,” or plant nutrients that work somewhat similarly to the hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogens in flaxseed can alter estrogen metabolism, causing either an increase or decrease in estrogen activity depending on someone’s hormonal status (in other words, flax has both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties). For example, in postmenopausal women, lignans can cause the body to produce less active forms of estrogen, which is tied to increased protection against tumor growth.

Lignans are also known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties, therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus. Studies have also found that polyphenols also support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body.

8. May Help Regulate Blood Pressure

A 2013 study in Canada stated that “flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention.” A report published in Clinical Nutrition in 2016 found flaxseed may lead to a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. If you’re starting your flaxseed intake to help manage blood pressure, the same study found consuming flaxseed for more than 12 weeks had a greater effect than consumption for fewer than 12 weeks. While flaxseed oil may have the desired effect on diastolic blood pressure, it did not on systolic blood pressure. Lignan extracts didn’t appear to affect either. So, if you’re targeting your overall blood pressure, ground flaxseed may be your best option.

9. Supports Digestive Health

One of the most well-researched benefits of flaxseed is its ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help reduce inflammation and protect the lining of the GI tract. Flaxseed has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease and other digestive ailments. Plus, it promotes beneficial gut flora even in people with “normal” digestive systems. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.

Flax is very high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which means it’s very helpful for maintaining normal bowel movements. Because it can help bulk up stool and flush waste from the GI tract due to its gel-like quality, flaxseed is considered one of the best natural remedies for constipation. You can eat ground flaxseeds to help keep you “regular” or take one to three tablespoons of flaxseed oil with eight ounces of carrot juice. You’ll also benefit from getting lots of magnesium from flax, another nutrient that promotes digestive health by hydrating stool and relaxing the muscles in the GI tract.

10. May Help Lower Cancer Risk

As part of a healthy diet, flaxseeds may be able to help prevent certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. For this reason, flax is included in the Budwig diet protocol, a natural approach to helping prevent and treat cancer. The Budwig diet protocol involves eating at least one daily serving of a recipe made with cottage cheese or yogurt, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. For this reason, the Budwig diet is sometimes called the flax oil and cottage cheese diet or just the flaxseed oil diet.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research discovered that consuming flaxseeds may decrease the risk of breast cancer by decreasing tumor growth. Certain studies show that women experience a reduced risk for developing breast cancer when they consume larger amounts of dietary fiber, lignans, carotenoid antioxidants, stigmasterol, vegetables and poultry. This has led some experts to recommend mostly plant-based diets for reducing risks of hormone-related cancers.

The lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol (types of estrogens), which is believed to be how flax naturally helps balance hormones. Balanced hormones (meaning not too little or too much estrogen and progesterone) can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other problems in women. For similar reasons, another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

11. May Help with Weight Loss

What’s the connection between flaxseeds and weight loss, according to the studies? A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flaxseeds and walnuts may improve obesity and support weight loss.

Since flax is full of healthy fats and fiber, it helps you feel satisfied for longer. This means you may wound up eating fewer calories overall, which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation and help with hormonal balance, which might be standing in the way of you losing weight. An inflamed body tends to hold on to excess weight, plus it’s common to struggle with digestive issues like constipation and bloating if you’ve been eating an unhealthy diet. Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads or smoothies daily as part of your weight loss plan.

12. Helps Decrease Menopausal and Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms

Lignans found in the flaxseed have been shown to have many benefits for menopausal women. In fact, flaxseed can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy in some cases or as a complementary approach to balancing hormones due to the estrogenic properties that lignans have.

Due to flax’s ability to balance estrogen, flaxseeds may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help menstruating women by helping to maintain cycle regularity, such as encouraging a normal length luteal phase (the period between ovulation and menstruation). To take advantage of these hormonal benefits of flaxseed, try to include one to two tablespoons of flaxmeal in your breakfast smoothie, along with one tablespoon of flaxseed oil at some point during the day.

Flaxseed Nutrition Facts

When you look at the nutritional benefits of flaxseed, there are many things that will catch your attention. In fact, flaxseed’s nutrition profile makes it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

According to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database, supplementation with two tablespoons of whole/unground flaxseed (considered about one serving) contains about:

  • 110 calories
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 8.5 grams fat
  • 6 grams fiber
  • 0.6 milligram manganese (26 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligram thiamine/vitamin B1 (22 percent)
  • 80 milligrams magnesium (20 percent DV)
  • 132 milligrams phosphorus (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram copper (12 percent DV)
  • 5 milligrams selenium (8 percent DV)

Flaxseeds also contain a good amount of vitamin B6, folate (or vitamin B9), iron, potassium and zinc. As you can see, it’s no secret as to where the benefits of flaxseed come from with this nutrition profile.

Flaxseed vs. Chia Seeds

  • Both flaxseeds and chia seeds contain lots of fiber and the type of omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Flax is a better source of ALA than chia seeds, although chia seeds also have many health-promoting effects. One ounce of flaxseeds contains about 6,000 milligrams of ALA compared to about 4,900 in the same amount of chia seeds.
  • Chia seeds are small, round, either white or black seeds that originated thousands of years ago in Mexico and South America. Like flax, chia can absorb lots of water, contribute to the feeling of fullness, prevent constipation and help with digestive health.
  • Flaxseeds contain less fiber than chia seeds. Flax has about eight grams of fiber in one ounce compared to about 11 grams in one ounce of chia seeds. Both form a gel during digestion when combined with liquid, which blocks the fiber from releasing sugars and being fully broken down. This helps with blood sugar control, forming bowel movements and lowering cholesterol.
  • Only flaxseeds contain high levels of lignans, while chia seeds do not. However, chia seeds have other antioxidants, especially black chia seeds, which are very nutrient-dense.
  • Chia seeds contain more calcium than flax seeds do, making them a good addition to a vegan/plant-based diet. They also provide other vitamins and minerals, like zinc, copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and potassium (similar to flaxseeds).
  • Flaxseed protein levels are impressive, with slightly more than chia seeds, although both are good sources.
  • Chia seeds can be consumed in any form, while flax should ideally be sprouted and ground. Flax are more susceptible to going rancid over time, so they should be kept in the refrigerator to prolong their freshness. Both are very useful in gluten-free or vegan baking and cooking.

Where to Find and How to Use Flaxseed

Look for flaxseed in major grocery stores, health food stores and online. These days they are widely available in supermarkets and might also be found in “bulk bin” sections of some health food stores where they are sold by the pound.

Flaxseeds vs. Flaxseed Meal vs. Sprouted Flaxseeds:

  • The very best way to experience the benefits of flaxseed is to consume flaxseeds in their sprouted form. Soaking them and then sprouting them eliminates phytic acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption. The Flax Council of Canada recommends soaking flaxseeds for minimum 10 minutes in warm water or for two hours in colder water. Some also soak the seeds overnight and then add the entire gel-like mixture (seeds plus water) to recipes.
  • Flaxseeds are best consumed ground, as our bodies cannot access the nutrients found inside the seeds if they are eaten whole. Whole seeds will mostly pass through our GI system undigested, so it’s always best to grind them or to use ground flaxseed meal to get the most benefits of flaxseed.
  • You can grind whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder, which is best done immediately before eating them so they do not spend much time exposed to air.
  • You can also buy flaxseeds pre-ground as flaxseed meal (or golden flaxseed meal).
  • Like other sources of fiber, including chia seeds and hemp seeds, make sure to take them with plenty of water or other fluids.

There are many great ways to add these super seeds into your diet, including adding them to homemade muffins, breads and cookies. How much flaxseed should you eat a day? Aim for about two to three tablespoons daily for proper dietary flaxseed supplementation. You might want to use more or less depending on your goals and how you react to consuming flaxseeds, so it’s best to monitor how you feel to find the right amount.

What about storage of flaxseeds? While many sources recommend that you store your flaxseeds (ground or whole) in an opaque container in the fridge or freezer, the Flax Council of Canada differs: “Studies conducted by the Flax Council of Canada show that coarsely ground flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for up to 10 months, without spoilage or loss of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA.”

Baking and Cooking with Flaxseeds:

One of the most common questions regarding the use of flaxseeds in recipes is whether baking has any effect on flax’s omega-3 fatty acids. According to many studies, you can bake flaxseeds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about three hours and the omega-3s (ALA) in flaxseeds will remain stable.

Here are tips for including flaxseeds in recipes:

  • Add 1–3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie. Add plenty of water or almond/coconut milk, due to how the flaxseeds absorb liquid.
  • Mix a tablespoon in with yogurt with some raw honey.
  • Bake ground flaxseeds into muffins, cookies and breads.
  • Add to homemade sprouted granola.
  • Mix with water and use as an egg substitute in vegetarian/vegan recipes.

Flaxseed Recipe Ideas

  • Citrus Flax Green Smoothie Recipe
  • Grainless Granola Recipe (add about 3/4 cup of flaxseeds)
  • Black Bean Burger Recipe
  • No Bake Coconut Cookies Recipes

History

Flaxseed is one of the oldest cultivated crops known to man, having been grown and consumed for thousands of years. According to info in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the Latin name of the flaxseed is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful.” Flaxseeds were eaten 5,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, consumed by Aztec warriors and also a favorite food of King Charlemagne in the eighth century.

In the U.S., flaxseed was first introduced by early colonists and used primarily for making fabric, paper and clothes due to its high fiber content, which adds strength and durability. Flaxseeds have also been historically fed to livestock to increase their health.

Around the 1990s, flaxseeds began gaining popularity in the health food industry as they became the focus of diets used to fight heart disease and other illnesses. Today they are considered one of the best foods for reducing inflammation and promoting gut health, whether someone is a vegetarian, vegan, following the Paleo diet, or on a low-carb or even ketogenic diet.

Potential Flaxseed Side Effects and Precautions

What are the potential side effects of eating flaxseeds and dietary flaxseed supplementation? When you first introduce flax, and therefore a lot of fiber, to your diet you might temporarily experience some of these side effects:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Loose stools
  • Decreased appetite
  • Potentially hormonal changes if you consume large amounts

The fiber in flaxseed may impair absorption of some medications. Also, be aware that flaxseed acts as a blood thinner, so if you’re taking any blood thinners such aspirin or other NSAIDs, you should avoid flaxseed consumption.

Additionally, avoid flaxseeds if you have hormone-sensitive breast or uterine cancer, and use with caution if you have high cholesterol and are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Final Thoughts

  • Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds. They contain the omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, protein, fiber, minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, and antioxidants called lignans.
  • Benefits of flaxseed include helping improve digestion, giving you clearer skin, lowering cholesterol, reducing sugar cravings, balancing hormones, helping with weight loss, treating constipation and helping fight cancer.
  • Use ground, sprouted flaxseeds for the most benefits. Consume about two to three tablespoons of whole or ground flaxseeds (also called flaxseed meal) daily, or have about one to two teaspoons of flaxseed oil.

Read Next: Cook with Cumin Seeds to Help Digestion & Immune System

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