When it comes to adding healthy fats to your diet, many people are quick to think about things like olive oil, peanut butter, almonds, and avocados. Coconut oil is also now making an appearance in many people’s diets as we’ve come to believe that it too may offer some seriously strong benefits that should not be overlooked.
But where does this leave flaxseeds?
Off the list – for most people.
This is a great shame because flaxseeds are a fantastic addition to just about any diet plan and offer a great nutritional profile that can help you go on to see better success with your overall health promotion program.
Flaxseeds are also relatively quick and easy to use (despite many people not realizing this). So you can just add them at any time you want.
But how do you go about including them in? Which dishes will they work with? And exactly what benefits are they giving you?
Let’s take a closer look so that you can get this figured out in order to stop overlooking this powerful food in your diet plan going forward.
What Is A Flaxseed?
Flaxseed, which also sometimes goes by the name linseeds (so if you see this, know it’s referring to the same thing) are golden-colored seeds that come from a plant. Flaxseeds can come in a few different forms including whole flaxseeds, ground flaxseeds, as well as flaxseed oil. The oil will have a slightly different nutritional profile than whole or ground flaxseeds because the outer shell has been removed, meaning it’ll be purely the fat content that you are taking in, but it’s still very healthy nevertheless.
When looking at the nutritional content of one tablespoon of ground flaxseed, we find:
3 grams of dietary fat
0.3 grams of saturated fat
2.5 grams of carbs
1.5 grams of dietary fiber
1 gram of protein
20 mg of calcium
Looking at this more closely, we see that this food is very rich in healthy fats for the body and contains hardly any saturated fat. In addition to that, the dietary fiber content is quite high and it actually contains more fiber than it does starch, making this is a perfect food for those who are trying to increase their fiber intake.
Also, it’ll provide you with a small dose of protein as well. While one gram may seem like not that much in the grand scheme of things, every little bit does help and will go towards rebuilding and repairing your body.
Finally, you’ll also get a nice small dose of calcium from flaxseeds as well, which will work towards helping you rebuild stronger bones.
Now let’s look at some of the key benefits that flaxseeds have to offer.
Rich Fiber Content
As just noted, the fiber content of flaxseeds alone is one of the key benefits. Flaxseeds contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, which is perfect for lowering your cholesterol level, improving digestive health, and promoting regularity.
It’s also going to help fill you up. When you consume flaxseeds, they form a gel-like substance in the gut, which can help to increase satiety while also helping to stabilize blood glucose levels.
This essentially helps the stomach from emptying too soon, which delays the onset of hunger and because it means the food passes slowly through the digestive tract, this can also mean that it could potentially boost your nutrient absorption as well.
Furthermore, because flaxseeds are so rich in dietary fiber, this also may mean that some of the calories from flaxseeds aren’t even absorbed by the body, but rather pass right through it and you net fewer calories overall.
This allows them to play a big role in helping to promote body weight control.
Filled With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The second big benefit that flaxseeds have to offer and that often sets them apart from other healthy fat sources out there is that they are filled with omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to offer a wide variety of health benefits including everything from increasing insulin resistance to boosting brain health to lowering your risk for heart disease1and stroke.
Omega-3 fatty acids are rather hard to come by in today’s times as the only sources you’ll find from foods include salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and trace amounts in other sources of grains or animal products.
Most people turn to omega-3 fatty acid supplements to get their needs met and while this is a fine approach and can also yield a good nutritional intake, it should be noted that food is always preferred.
So consider flaxseeds an additional method to help you achieve good omega-3 standing. Supplementation is fine but what you get from foods will be the icing on the cake.
Improved Skin And Hair Health
Always feel like your hair looks dry and lackluster? Jealous of those who appear to have a natural shine to their locks? Flaxseeds may just help you.
The ALA fats that are found in flaxseeds are great for helping to increase the shine and strength of your hair and are also going to be beneficial for reducing dryness and flakiness.
Some people who suffer from conditions such as acne or rosacea will also notice improvement upon taking flaxseeds, meaning it could be a natural treatment for these skin woes2.
One little known benefit of flaxseeds is that they may help to reduce dry eyes if you suffer as they have lubricating effects. Dry eyes are one of those conditions that may not prevent you from going about your day or be severe enough for you to really seek out medical treatment, but yet, it is a nagging nuisance that you deal with all throughout the day.
Improved Cholesterol Profile
High cholesterol is a serious problem that we face as a nation today as it seems that our diets are becoming more and more based around fast and convenience foods and less based around wholesome, nutrient-dense foods.
This means it’s even more important to focus on what we can be doing to help reduce our cholesterol levels naturally before they climb sky-high.
One such method is increasing the level of soluble fiber in your diet plan. Soluble fiber primarily comes from whole grains, beans, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables, so it is something that many people are also not getting enough of in today’s times.
When you eat soluble fiber, especially the soluble fiber from flaxseeds, they’ll trap the fat and cholesterol and help remove it out of the body before it can be absorbed and interfere with your heart health.
Research has shown that subjects who begin adding flaxseeds to their daily diet show a significant drop in cholesterol levels after a period of time compared to those who maintained their regular diet plan³.
While you can also take drugs to help reduce your cholesterol, keep in mind that all drugs will have side effects over time (if not in the short-term, the long-term), so it’s always better to focus on natural methods of lowering cholesterol instead.
On a gluten-free diet? The great news is that you can still include flaxseeds in your plan without a problem. Gluten-free diets are becoming more and more commonplace in today’s society as many people are realizing that they suffer from gluten sensitivity.
If you want to make a particular recipe but it calls for grains as part of the dish, often you can simply swap out these grains for flaxseed instead.
Keep in mind you probably wouldn’t do this if the grain was the main ingredient in the dish (for instance, you wouldn’t swap out the rice in a healthy fried rice recipe and make fried flax instead….), but if it’s just a small amount being added, usually the swap can be made without too much challenge.
The nice thing about doing this as well is that you will lower the overall carb content of the recipe while increasing the healthy fat content instead. This gives you a better nutritional profile if maintaining your body weight is your goal.
While heart disease is one of the top disease concerns in today’s world, diabetes isn’t far behind it. While heart disease may be more fatal in some cases than diabetes, diabetes should definitely not be taken lightly. Those who are diabetic often come to suffer from other diseases and conditions because their risk factor is elevated, so remember that it can also form the base for other diseases.
It’s very critical that all diabetics are watching their intake of refined foods and foods that are rich in processed sugars so flaxseeds fit the bill perfectly. With hardly any sugar content at all, they’re an ideal option for anyone who is hoping to cut back while still maintaining optimal energy.
The fat and healthy carb combo found in flaxseeds will help ensure that you are keeping blood glucose levels stable, managing your insulin, and because omega-3 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds, it’ll also help boost your insulin sensitivity levels as well.
Keeping your insulin sensitivity level higher is one of the top things you can do to prevent or manage diabetes, so flaxseeds can go a long way towards making this happen4.
Rich In Antioxidants
Antioxidants are the ‘talk of the town’ these days, so to speak in the nutritional community. Superfoods, which are foods loaded with good nutrition and powerful antioxidants are being touted as a must-have and something more and more people are looking at adding to their diet.
Flaxseeds are one of the most powerful superfoods out there. With a very strong lignan profile, which is a polyphenol that provides you with a good dose of antioxidants and can help provide anti-aging and hormonal regulation effects, they are considered a must-have.
Lignans are a form of a natural phytoestrogen, which is a compound that helps to mimic that of estrogen and can alter your hormonal profile depending on what’s needed.
In some women who have high estrogen levels, such as after menopause takes place, consuming lignans may help to lower these levels back down, which in turn can decrease the risk of tumor growth.
Many factors can decrease lignan concentrations in the body including having poor gut health, so using a quality probiotic such as P3-OM will really go a long way towards helping you keep your levels where they need to be after eating foods that have a rich supply of them.
Blood Pressure Regulation
The final thing that flaxseeds may assist with is regulating your blood pressure levels. High blood pressure levels often go hand in hand with high cholesterol levels, so if you are already doing something to help lower your cholesterol levels, chances are your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of that.
But beyond that, flaxseeds can help further augment the process. Research has illustrated that when subjects consumed flaxseeds for more than 12 weeks, blood pressure reduction benefits were noted.
When the total duration was less than 12 weeks however, fewer benefits were noted so keep in mind this is a long-term thing you will need to commit to if you are hoping to reap benefits. Simply adding flaxseeds to your diet a couple of times per week for a month isn’t going to give you the benefits you’re looking for. You need to have the commitment to consume them nearly daily for a longer period of time.
It should also be noted that flaxseed oil also does not have this kind of effect so you’ll want to opt for ground flaxseeds instead.
So there you have some of the key benefits and reasons why you should consider adding flaxseeds to your regular diet plan. Flaxseeds can be a great way to boost your health, improve your digestion, boost regularity, and help you get the important omega-3 fatty acids you need in your body.
Need a few serving suggestions? Check out the options below and get started adding them to your diet today!
- Try sprinkling flaxseeds onto your cereal in the morning. This will work regardless of whether it’s hot or cold.
- Blend flaxseeds into a real fruit smoothie
- Sprinkle flaxseeds on top of a salad for added crunch and texture.
- Mix a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseeds into your yogurt
- Add flaxseeds to casserole dishes
- Incorporate flaxseeds into meatloaf by adding it to the ingredients or replacing some of the bread crumbs/oats
- Stir flaxseeds into hummus when serving for an instant boost in healthy fat content
Frequently Asked Questions
What does flaxseed do to your body?
Flaxseed can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, improve hormonal levels, and it may help to promote faster weight loss as well thanks to its satiety-boosting effects.
Is flaxseed good for weight loss?
Yes! Flaxseeds can be a great option for weight loss because they are going to help reduce your hunger while stabilizing blood glucose levels. This means you’ll be less prone to food cravings and be able to keep your total calorie intake under better control.
Does flaxseed make you poop?
As flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, they can help you poop if you are backed up and promote long term regularity.
Can you eat raw flaxseeds?
You can eat flaxseeds raw however most people may not like the taste of it. Instead, ground flaxseeds are usually used and can offer superior nutrition as well.
What are the side effects of consuming flaxseeds in the diet?
The side effects are quite low, however, some people may experience things such as allergic reactions, diarrhea, bloating, stomach ache, constipation, and gas.
Can flaxseeds increase estrogen levels?
Flaxseeds are considered a food that is a phytoestrogen, which can change estrogen production. For this reason, men will want to be more careful about having them in their diet plan. Many post-menopausal women, however, will find that having flaxseeds in their diet proves to be advantageous and can help to minimize unwanted symptoms associated with fluctuating estrogen levels.
- Mozaffarian, Dariush. “Does alpha-linolenic acid intake reduce the risk of coronary heart disease? A review of the evidence.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 11.3 (2005): 24.
- Goyal, Ankit, et al. “Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food.” Journal of food science and technology 51.9 (2014): 1633-1653.
- Prasad, Kailash. “Reduction of serum cholesterol and hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis in rabbits by secoisolariciresinol diglucoside isolated from flaxseed.” Circulation 99.10 (1999): 1355-1362.
- Bhathena, Sam J., and Manuel T. Velasquez. “Beneficial role of dietary phytoestrogens in obesity and diabetes.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 76.6 (2002): 1191-1201