Flax seeds contain healthy stuff like fiber, magnesium, iron, etc. They're also known to improve digestion and lower cancer risks.
Flaxseeds benefit heart health, cancer prevention, brain function, weight loss, and even skincare.
1. Improve heart health
Research suggests that eating flaxseeds could help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and improve cardiovascular health. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate about one tablespoon per day had better overall cardiometabolic risk factors than those who did not eat flaxseeds. Another study showed that adding ground flaxseeds to bread increased the amount of EPA and DHA in the body.
2. Boost digestion
- Regulate bowel movements
- Reduce the risk of piles of surgery
- Reduce the risk of colon cancer
Flaxseeds also provide both soluble and insoluble fibers, each of which improves bowel movements in slightly different ways.
- Soluble fiber helps soften stools so digestive waste can pass them through the digestive tract more quickly.
- Soluble fibers add bulk to stools, which makes them easy for your body to pass through.
Flax seeds contain about 7 grams of fiber per one tablespoon serving (about 3 grams of soluble fiber and 4 grams of insoluble). It makes flaxseeds a great addition to your diet because it helps keep your digestive system healthy.
Fiber is essential for good overall health. Fiber keeps you full longer, promotes regular bowel movement, lowers cholesterol, supports heart health, and improves skin health.
3. Reduce cancer risk
Some studies indicate that eating flaxseeds may help reduce the risk of spreading certain types of cancer.
- Prevent the development of cancer
- Reduce the growth of tumor cells in women with early-stage breast cancer.
- Reduce the risk of death in female breast cancer patients with early-stage cancer
Flaxseeds contain lignans which may help prevent some cancers. In animal and laboratory studies, lignans have shown promise in protecting against colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancers. However, human studies are not perfect.
In 2013, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine published a study showing mice fed diets rich in lignan compounds — found in whole grains like wheat bran, oats, barley, rye, and corn — experienced fewer side effects following radiation treatment.
The findings are significant because many cancer patients receive radiation treatments, and some develop serious complications such as lung injuries.
The American Cancer Society says that most people don't eat enough flaxseed to reap the benefits. However, one spoonful of ground flaxseed provides about 5 milligrams of lignan, which is a good start.
4. Improve blood sugar
Flaxseed contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which regulates blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity. Both of these factors lower the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Flaxseed may help control blood sugar levels because it contains high amounts of soluble fiber. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that soluble fiber slowed the absorption of sugar in people's bloodstreams, allowing the body to manage blood sugar levels better.
A review of 25 studies suggests that whole flaxseed may lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity, a condition that impairs the body's ability to control blood sugar levels. Researchers believe this effect may be due to the seed's soluble fiber content since soluble fibers slow down the digestion of carbohydrates.
The research showed that whole flaxseed lowered blood sugar levels by about 5 percent over four weeks compared to a placebo. In addition, insulin sensitivity improved by up to 20 percent, meaning the body could use less insulin to lower blood sugar levels.
In addition, the researchers found that whole flaxseed positively affected weight loss and cholesterol levels. Whole flaxseed may also protect against heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
5. Achieve optimum weight
Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that flaxseed supplementation could help people maintain or lose weight. Researchers analyzed data from 26 randomized controlled trials involving 1482 participants. They concluded that consuming about 3.75 grams per day of ground flaxseed resulted in statistically significant decreases in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, and insulin resistance. Flaxseed consumption also increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
6. Prevent chronic diseases
Polyphenols protect our bodies against cell damage that may cause us to age prematurely and develop certain types of cancer.
According to the Arthritis Research Center of America, flaxseed may help ease some of the symptoms of arthritis.
In fact, according to the American College of Rheumatology, flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. In addition, studies show that flaxseed helps relieve joint pain and stiffness.
If you're interested, talk to your doctor about trying it out.
7. Lower Cholesterol
Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol. As a result, flaxseed is an excellent dietary source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is a type of omega- 3 fatty acid considered "essential" because the human body cannot produce it. However, some types of fish are good sources of ALA, too.
The primary purpose of ALA is to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Studies show that increased ALA consumption lowers total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol while increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol. These changes reduce your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Another benefit of ALA is that it helps maintain normal insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that consuming ALA might help prevent both conditions.
Finally, there is evidence that ALA plays a role in preventing certain cancers, including breast cancer. For example, one study showed that women who consumed high amounts of ALA had a 25% reduction in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who ate less.
8. Reduce Blood Pressure
Flaxseed is renowned for being one of the best foods for lowering blood pressure levels. A review of 15 studies published in the journal Nutrients found that supplementing with whole flaxseed products, such as flaxseed powder, could significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A small,12-week study found that taking four tablespoons (about 30 grams) of flaxseeds each day lowered blood pressure in those with elevated levels. Further, a large, 11-year study showed that taking flaxseed supplements daily for over three months decreased blood pressure by about 2 mm Hg.
While that might sound like a small amount, it translates into significant health benefits. For example, reducing blood pressure by just 2 mm Hg lowers the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by approximately 14% and 6%, according to a recent meta-analysis of 11 studies.
9. Reduce Hot Flashes
In 2007, a team of researchers published results suggesting that flaxseed may help reduce the occurrence or severity of hot flashes among women who are not taking hormone replacement therapy. However, another group of researchers found no effect a few years later. Then, in 2017, the third team of scientists reported that flaxseed supplementation had little impact on reducing hot flashes.
The studies differed because they used different doses and forms of flaxseed. They also varied in how long participants took the supplement and whether they ate it mixed into food or consumed it as a pill. In addition, some studies were small, others large. And some included people who already suffered from hot flashes, while others focused on those who did not experience them.
The latest study was conducted over three months and involved nearly 200 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 65. Half received a daily dose of ground flaxseed powder mixed into the water; the rest got a placebo. Researchers measured the number of hot flashes each woman experienced throughout the trial.
10. Rich in Nutrition
Flaxseed is one of those foods you never knew you needed until you tried it. But now you know why it's been around since ancient times. This nutty seed packs a powerful nutritional punch. A single serving provides a good amount — about a third of the daily recommended value — of protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, and pantothenic acid. In addition, just one tablespoon (about 7 grams) of ground-flaked flaxseeds provides nearly 3 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
The oil in the seeds is high in lignans, antioxidants that may help protect against cancer and heart disease. Lignans are also thought to lower cholesterol levels. They're found naturally in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and dairy products.
- Calories: 224
- Fat: 17.5g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 16g
- Sodium: 12.6mg
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 11.4 grams, or 40 percent of the DV
- Added Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 7.7g
- Thiamin: 0.69mg 57% DV
- Magnesium: 165mg 39% DV
- Selenium: 7.12mcg 19% DV
- Iron: 2.4mg 13% DV
Eat ground flax seeds. They are healthier than whole seeds.
Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark location, like the refrigerator or the back of the pantry.
There are several simple methods for eating flaxseeds, including:
- Sprinkled on top of oatmeal or overnight oats
- Filled with nuts and rolled up for an easy snack
- Baked into cookies and muffins, baked into brownie recipes, and baked into banana bread recipes
- Made into a laddu by mixing ground flax seeds with ground dates.
Any baking recipe can substitute a ground flax seed meal for an egg. Add 1 tbsp of ground flax seed meal per egg called for in the original batter.
Flaxseed is particularly high in thiamine, a B vitamin that plays a key role in energy metabolism as well as cell function. It's also a great source of copper, which is involved in brain development, immune health, and iron metabolism.