For centuries, flaxseeds have been valued for their protective properties for health. In fact, Charles the Great ordered his subjects to eat flaxseed for their health. So it is not surprising that they acquired the name Linum usitatissimum, which means “the most useful.” Nowadays, flax seeds are emerging as a “superfood” to the extent that more scientific research points to their health benefits. Here are 10 health benefits of flaxseed that are backed by science.
1. Flaxseed Seeds Have an Important Nutrient Content:
Cultivated since the beginning of civilization, flaxseeds are one of the oldest crops. There are two types, brown and gold, which are equally nutritious. A typical serving size for ground flaxseed seeds is 1 tablespoon (7 grams). One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains the following:
- Calories: 37
- Protein: 3% of the RDI
- Carbohydrates: 1% of the RDI
- Fiber: 8% of the IDR
- Saturated fat: 1% of the RDI
- Monounsaturated fat:5 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat:0 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 1,597 mg
- Vitamin B1: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the RDI
- Folate: 2% of the IDR
- Calcium: 2% of the IDR
- Iron: 2% of the IDR
- Magnesium: 7% of the IDR
- Phosphorus: 4% of the IDR
- Potassium: 2% of the RDI
Only one tablespoon provides a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals. But interestingly, the health benefits of flaxseed are mainly attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and the fiber they contain.
Summary: Flaxseed seeds are good sources of many nutrients. Its health benefits are mainly due to its content of omega-3 fats, lignans and fiber.
2. Flaxseed Seeds are High in Omega-3 Fats:
If you are a vegetarian or do not eat fish, flaxseed may be your best source of omega-3 fats. It is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is one of the two essential fatty acids that must be obtained from the foods that are eaten, since the body does not produce them. Animal studies have shown that the ALA in flaxseed seeds prevents cholesterol from depositing in the blood vessels of the heart, reduces inflammation in the arteries and reduces the growth of tumors. A Costa Rican study involving 3,638 people found that those who ate more ALA had a lower risk of heart attack than those who consumed less ALA. Also, an extensive review of 27 studies involving more than 250,000 people found that ALA was linked to a 14% lower risk of heart disease. Numerous studies have also linked ALA with a lower risk of stroke. In addition, a recent review of observational data concluded that ALA had heart health benefits comparable to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two of the best known omega-3 fats.
Summary: Flaxseed seeds are a rich source of omega-3 ALA fatty acids. It has been proven that plant-based ALA fatty acids have heart health benefits and are related to a lower risk of stroke.
3. Flaxseed Seeds are a Rich Source of Lignans, Which Can Reduce The Risk of Cancer:
Lignans are plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogen properties, which can help reduce the risk of cancer and improve health. Interestingly, flaxseeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
“Observational studies show that those who eat flaxseeds have a lower risk of breast cancer, particularly postmenopausal women”.
In addition, according to a Canadian study that involved more than 6,000 women, those who eat flaxseeds are 18% less likely to develop breast cancer. However, men can also benefit from eating flax seeds. In a small study that included 15 men, those who received 30 grams of flaxseed seeds a day while on a low-fat diet showed reduced levels of a prostate cancer marker, suggesting a lower risk of prostate cancer. Flaxseed seeds also appear to have the potential to prevent colon and skin cancer in laboratory and animal studies. However, more research is needed to confirm this. However, the evidence so far indicates that flaxseed is a potentially valuable food in the fight against several types of cancer.
Summary: Flaxseed seeds contain a group of nutrients called lignans, which have potent antioxidant and estrogen properties. They can help in the prevention of breast and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer.
4. Flaxseed Seeds are Rich in Dietary Fiber:
Only one tablespoon of flaxseed seeds contains 3 grams of fiber, which is 8 to 12% of the recommended daily intake for men and women, respectively. In addition, flax seeds contain two types of soluble (20-40%) and insoluble (60-80%) dietary fiber. This fiber duo is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, groups stool and leads to more regular bowel movements. On the one hand, soluble fiber increases the consistency of the contents of your intestine and slows your digestion rate. This has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. On the other hand, insoluble fiber allows more water to join the stool, increases its volume and results in softer stools. This is useful for preventing constipation and for those who have irritable bowel syndrome or diverticular disease.
Summary: With so much fiber packed in each tiny seed, adding flax seeds to your diet promotes regular bowel movements and can improve your digestive health.
5. Flaxseed Can Improve Cholesterol:
Another health benefit of flax seeds is their ability to lower cholesterol levels. In a study in people with high cholesterol, the consumption of 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of flaxseed powder daily for three months reduced total cholesterol by 17% and “bad” LDL cholesterol by almost 20%. Another study of people with diabetes found that taking 1 tablespoon (10 grams) of flaxseed powder daily for a month resulted in a 12% increase in good “HDL” cholesterol. In postmenopausal women, consuming 30 grams of flaxseed seeds daily lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by approximately 7% and 10%, respectively. These effects appear to be due to the fiber in flax seeds, as it binds to bile salts and is then excreted by the body. To replenish these bile salts, cholesterol is extracted from the blood to the liver. This process reduces blood cholesterol levels. This is definitely good news for those who want to improve their cholesterol.
Summary: The high content of flaxseed fiber can help reduce cholesterol and can play an important role in improving heart health.
6. Flaxseed Can Lower Blood Pressure:
Flaxseed studies have also focused on its natural ability to lower blood pressure. A Canadian study found that eating 30 grams of flax seeds daily for six months lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg and 7 mmHg, respectively. For those who were already taking blood pressure medications, flaxseed seeds further lowered blood pressure and decreased the number of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure by 17%. In addition, according to a comprehensive review that analyzed data from 11 studies, daily intake of flaxseed for more than three months lowered blood pressure by 2 mmHg. While this may seem insignificant, a 2 mmHg reduction in blood pressure can reduce the risk of dying from a stroke by 10% and heart disease by 7%.
Summary: Flaxseed seeds have been shown to reduce blood pressure and are especially useful for those with high blood pressure.
7. They Contain High Quality Proteins:
Flaxseed seeds are a great source of vegetable proteins, and there is a growing interest in flaxseed protein and its health benefits. Flaxseed protein is rich in the amino acids arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. Numerous laboratory and animal studies have shown that flaxseed protein helps improve immune function, lowers cholesterol, prevents tumors and has anti-fungal properties. If you are considering decreasing your meat consumption and are worried that this leads to you being too hungry, flax seeds may be your answer. In fact, in a recent study, 21 adults received an animal protein meal or vegetable protein meal. The study found no differences between the two meals in terms of appetite, satiety or food intake. It is likely that both animal protein meals and plant protein meals stimulated hormones in the intestine to cause a feeling of fullness, which resulted in eating less at the next meal.
Summary: Flaxseed seeds are a good source of vegetable protein and can be an alternative source of protein for people who do not eat meat.
8. Flaxseed Seeds Can Help Control Blood Sugar:
Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem worldwide. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels as a result of the body’s inability to secrete insulin or resistance to it. Some studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes who added between 10 and 20 grams of flaxseed powder to their daily diet for at least a month saw reductions of 8 to 20% in blood sugar levels. This blood sugar lowering effect is especially due to the insoluble fiber content of flaxseed seeds. Research has found that insoluble fiber decreases the release of blood sugar while reducing blood sugar. However, one study found no changes in blood sugar levels or any improvement in diabetes management. This could be due to the small number of subjects in the study and the use of flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil lacks fiber, which is linked to flaxseed’s ability to lower blood sugar. In general, flaxseeds can be a beneficial and nutritious addition to the diet of people with diabetes.
Summary: Flaxseeds can lower blood sugar due to their insoluble fiber content. They can be a beneficial addition to the diet of people with diabetes.
9. Flaxseed Seeds Help Control Hunger, Which Can Help Control Weight:
If you tend to snack between meals, you may want to consider adding flaxseeds to your drink to avoid hunger attacks. One study found that adding 25 grams of ground flaxseed seeds to a beverage reduced the feeling of hunger and appetite in general. The reduction in hunger sensation was probably due to the soluble fiber content of flaxseeds. It decreases the digestion in the stomach, which triggers a series of hormones that control appetite and provide a feeling of satiety. The dietary fiber content of flaxseed seeds can help weight control by suppressing hunger and increasing the feeling of fullness.
Summary: Flaxseeds keep you full for longer and can help you control your weight by controlling your appetite.
10. Flaxseed Seeds Can be a Versatile Ingredient:
Flaxseed or flaxseed oil can be added to many common foods. Try the following:
- Add them to the water and drink it as part of your daily fluid intake.
- Use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing
- Spray ground flax seeds on your hot or cold breakfast cereal
- Mixture of ground flaxseed in your favorite yogurt
- Add ground flaxseed seeds in cookies, muffin, bread or other cakes
- Blend of ground flaxseed seeds in smoothies to thicken the consistency
- Add ground flaxseed seeds to the water as an egg substitute
- Incorporate flaxseed seeds in meat patties
Summary: Flaxseed seeds are so versatile that they can be easily added to your daily diet. There are a variety of recipes you can try.
Tips to Add Flaxseed to Your Diet:
- Flaxseed consumption is attributed many impressive benefits.
- Here are some tips on how you can add these little seeds in your diet.
Consume Ground Flaxseeds Instead of Whole:
- Opt for ground flaxseed seeds, as they are easier to digest.
- Since you will not be able to obtain so many benefits of whole flaxseed seeds, because your intestines cannot break the hard outer covering of the seeds.
- Similarly, you can buy whole flaxseeds, grind them in a coffee grinder and store them in an airtight container.
What Happens with Linseed Oil?
- The resurgence of the use of flaxseed oil is due to its nutritional properties and its health benefits.
- It is usually removed through a process called cold pressing.
- Since flaxseed oil is sensitive to heat and light, it is best to store it in dark glass bottles and store it in a dark and cool place like a kitchen cabinet.
- Because some of its nutrients are heat sensitive, flaxseed oil is not suitable for cooking at high temperatures.
- However, some studies have shown that the use of flaxseed oil in light frying up to 350 º F / 177 º C did not cause any reduction in oil quality.
- It is worth noting that flaxseed oil contains more AAL than flaxseed seeds. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 1.6 grams, while one tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 7 grams.
- However, flaxseeds contain a number of other beneficial nutrients that are not included in their extracted oil, such as fiber. To fully obtain the health benefits of flaxseeds, consuming ground seeds should be your first choice.
How Much Do You Need?
- The health benefits observed in previous studies were observed with only 1 tablespoon (10 grams) of ground flaxseed seeds per day.
- However, it is recommended to keep portion sizes less than 5 tablespoons (50 grams) of flax seeds per day.
Summary: Ground flaxseed seeds provide the greatest health benefits. If you use flaxseed oil, remember to store it in a cool, dark place and use it when cooking at a lower temperature to preserve its nutritional properties.
When it comes to nutritional goodness, flaxseed seeds are full of it. Although tiny, they are rich in omega-3 AAL fatty acids, lignans and fiber, all of which have been shown to have many potential health benefits. They can be used to improve digestive health, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer and can benefit people with diabetes. As a versatile food ingredient, flaxseeds or flaxseed oil are easy to add to your diet. With many proven health benefits and possibly more, there is no better time than now to take some linseed seeds from your local grocery store.