- 1 What is Flaxseed?
- 2 Flaxseed Oil
- 3 Flaxseed Oil vs. Linseed Oil
- 4 Flaxseed Oil Benefits
- 5 Flaxseed Nutrition
- 6 Flaxseed Diet
- 7 Flaxseed Detox
- 8 How to eat flaxseeds daily
- 9 Health Benefits of Flaxseed
- 10 Flaxseed Side Effects
- 11 Flaxseed Recipes
- 12 Recipe #1
- 13 Recipe #2
- 14 Recipe #3
- 15 Conclusion
When you think of foods that promote good health, fruits and vegetables are first to come to mind. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and important nutrients that do wonders for a person’s health. This belief is backed by science, but doesn’t mean that they’re all you should eat. There are other food sources in nature that are just as healthy and nutritious as most fruits and veggies we eat regularly.
Nuts are a great addition to any diet. Many people already incorporate nuts into dish and meals. They also make good snacks. Most healthy nuts are tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews. They are good sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Before chia seeds conquered the world, there was flaxseed. These tiny seeds are packed with many nutrients that are good for your body. Find out why many people consider flaxseed a food for life and a nut superfood that deserves a place on your plate every day.
What is Flaxseed?
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Linum usitatissimum
Flaxseed comes from the flax plant, which is also known as the common flax or linseed. It belongs to the Linum genus from the Linaceae family that grows and thrives in cooler places. Aside from being added in dishes or made in drinks, flaxseed is also made used for table linens, bed sheets, and undergarments.
The flax plants from where the flaxseed originates are tall plants with slender stems. They bear white, yellow, blue, and red flowers with green slender leaves. The majority of plants, though, bear pale blue flowers. The fruit produced by the plant is round with glossy brown seeds that resemble the shape of an apple. They are flaxseeds and are produced by two varieties of flax plants, the yellow (golden) and brown flax plants.
Flax is among the oldest fiber crop in the world. Babylonians first cultivated flaxseed in 3,000 BC. During the 8th century, King Charlemagne of Babylon passed laws requiring everyone in the land to eat flaxseed for its renowned health benefits. Recent studies on this superfood confirm that the late King was right. Over the years, flaxseed gained more popularity and people now add them to their oatmeal during breakfast, in salads, soups, meats, smoothies, and even in dark sauces. If you can’t tolerate gluten in your food like people with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, rejoice because flaxseed is gluten-free.
Flaxseed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant. 40% of the seed’s weight is oil according to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. 55% of the 40% oil is omega-3 fatty acid or alpha-linolenic acid. Flaxseed oil contains 2.5 grams of omega-3 in each teaspoon. Although flaxseed is a favorite in baking, flaxseed oil is rarely used by many.
Flaxseed Oil vs. Linseed Oil
Are flaxseed oil and linseed oil the same? In essence, yes but there’s a slight difference. Flaxseed oil is used for human consumption while linseed oil is processed for industrial use.
Flaxseed Oil Benefits
Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 and benefits the body in many ways:
- Reduces inflammation of the intestines among patients diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
- Natural laxative
- Reduces high cholesterol levels
- Lowers the risk of heart attack
- Prevents dryness of the eyes in a condition known as Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Reduces the risks of breast, colon, skin, and prostate cancer (1)
- Helps burn body fat
- Reduces symptoms of menopause
- Promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails
Flaxseed is a rich source of the following nutrients:
- B vitamins
- Dietary fiber and mucilage (Water-soluble, gel-forming fiber)
- Fiber-like polyphenol (Lignans e.g. matairesinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), Omega-6 fatty acids (Linoleic acid), and Omega-9 fatty acids (Oleic acid)
Flaxseed calories are roughly 534 in every 100 grams. It is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber that improves digestive health. Most importantly, it is an excellent source of fiber and lignans that are bioactive components good for one’s health and enhance the value of a flaxseed meal. (2)
How to use flaxseeds for weight loss – The Journal of Nutrition published a study revealing that walnuts and flaxseeds promote weight loss and prevent obesity. (3) Flaxseeds prevent overeating because it is rich in fiber and healthy fats as well as prevent inflammation. The body tends to retain weight with the presence of inflammation.
Flaxseed’s weight loss properties are also supported by a 2012 study published in the journal Appetite. 2.5 grams of flaxseed was added to the subjects’ drinks and resulted in a suppressed appetite making them eat less. (4)
Is flaxseed a good source of fiber? Flaxseed is rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which is not broken down by digestion for a healthy GI tract. The fiber found in flaxseed only supports the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon, thereby cleansing the system of waste products. A flaxseed detox or flaxseed cleanse aids in the movement of waste out of the body. The insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the contents of the gut. Also, the soluble fiber aids in water absorption in the stomach and colon, forming a gel that slows down digestion allowing your body to absorb nutrients from food before eliminating it.
There are 2 ways to do a flaxseed detox using whole or ground flaxseed.
- Whole Flaxseed – Rinse one to two tablespoons of flaxseed and put them in a cup. Add filtered water or juice and let it sit overnight to form a gel. Add more water if needed the following day and eat it every morning for the next couple of weeks.
- Ground Flaxseed – Grind the whole flaxseed into a fine powder and add to foods and drinks like yogurt, cereal, salads, and even smoothies. Only grind what you can consume since they go rancid quickly.
How to eat flaxseeds daily
If you don’t mind eating flaxseeds as they are, eating one to two tablespoons daily will give you the best results. If not, incorporate flaxseed into meals and drinks to benefit from the many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Add flaxseeds into yogurt, cereal, muffins, oatmeal, protein shakes, French toast, cheese, sauces, ice cream, bread, and even as a substitute for eggs. Here’s how:
- Add flaxseeds to sauces, casseroles, or meatballs
- Sprinkle on soups or salads
- Blend into smoothies or juices
- Mix into yogurts
- Sprinkle on hot oatmeal or cold cereals
- Add to mayonnaise or mustard in sandwiches
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
- Rich source of omega-3 fatty acids – Flaxseed contains high levels of ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants, which promotes heart health, protects the brain, prevents inflammation, and protects against autoimmune diseases. Nutrition Reviews published a study about ALA conversion and how gender affects it. (5) ALA, although not as popular and healthy as marine Omega-3s, is still a healthy fat you should include in your diet for good health.
- Reduces cholesterol levels – Adding flaxseed into the diet can help lower cholesterol levels according to a study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal. Flaxseed is rich in soluble fiber that traps cholesterol and fats in the GI tract so the body no longer absorbs them. It also absorbs bile produced from cholesterol in the gallbladder and excretes it through the GI tract. As a result, the gallbladder makes more bile, thereby further reducing the cholesterol level as a whole. (6)
- Prevents cancer – Flaxseed can reduce the risk of breast cancer according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research. The seeds contain three lignans that bacteria in the intestines convert into enterodiol and enterolactone that helps balance hormones, thus preventing breast cancer. (7) Another study supports flaxseed’s ability to lower the risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer as published in the Journal of Nutrition. (8)
- Help with menopause – Menopausal women benefit from flaxseed because the seeds contain lignans, which can serve as a hormone replacement therapy alternative due to their potent estrogenic properties. This is supported by a study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer suggesting that the lignans found in the seeds reduce cancer risk and affect hormone metabolism in postmenopausal women. (9)
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease – Omega-3 fatty acids from plants have notable blood pressure-lowering effects. It normalizes the heartbeat and possesses other anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, a diet rich in flaxseed prevents the hardening of the arteries and prevents plaque deposit buildup.
Other Benefits of Flaxseed
- Soothes inflammation caused by acne, boils, burns, eczema, and psoriasis
- Reduces bone loss and lowers the risk of osteoporosis
- Treats sore throats, cough, and upper respiratory tract infections
- Prevents constipation
- Prevents depression
- Prevents liver disease
- Protects against radiation toxicity
- Treat carpal tunnel syndrome
- Boosts immunity
Flaxseed Side Effects
Flaxseed may be generally safe and touted for its many nutritional properties, but there are also flaxseed side effects you need to be aware of:
- GI upset e.g. nausea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, stomachache, diarrhea, or constipation
- Slow clotting
- Laxative effects e.g. GI upset and diarrhea
- Digestive tract obstruction due to the mucilaginous property of flaxseed
- Flaxseed allergy e.g. nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and life-threatening anaphylaxis (Difficulty breathing and sudden drop in blood pressure)
- Flaxseed overdose e.g. rapid breathing, shortness of breath, weakness, trouble walking, seizure, and paralysis
- Menstrual changes
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Causes mania in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder
Flaxseed can be used as an ingredient in pasta, muffins, bread, and cookies. Its phytonutrient content is higher than both blueberries or olives. Start eating flaxseed today. There are different flaxseed meal recipes you can try depending on your tastes and preferences.
Tropical Green Smoothie Flaxseed Cleanse
- 1-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flax meal)
- 3-4 cups spinach
- 2 cups papaya
- 1 mango
- ½ small pineapple
- Blend half of a small pineapple until smooth.
- Add the spinach, papaya, mango, ground flaxseed and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and serve.
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Flaxseed Smoothie
- 2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseed
- ½ cup 1% lowfat milk
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ripe banana, sliced
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and serve.
No-Bake Granola Bars
- 1 cup ground flaxseed
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 ¼ cups natural crunchy peanut butter
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup honey
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Combine t he flaxseeds, oats, peanut butter, cranberries, honey, almonds and chocolate chips together in a bowl.
- Line a 9×11 baking dish and press the mixture into it to make a flat layer using a spatula.
- Put them in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Cut into 12 bars.
- Wrap individually in plastic for storage.
Size may be an issue for some but not with flaxseed. It may be small but they are packed with so much power and nutrition you won’t get from the processed foods you love to eat daily. They are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that does wonders for the body. Adding flaxseed to your daily meals can save you from many health conditions as long as it’s eaten in moderation.
Over time, you’ll see a new you unravel right before your eyes because of the high fiber content and mucilaginous property of flaxseed by promoting weight loss and healthy digestion. It is just what we need to stay healthy over time. Flaxseed also helps get rid of toxic buildup in our body so our system is in the best shape at all times.
Don’t be afraid to add a flaxseed here and there in your meals. This fiber crop has been consumed by people for centuries because it’s good at what it does, making people healthy and satiated. There are different ways to incorporate it into your diet whether for breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, or drinks. If you’ve already started traveling on the road to optimal health by eating more fruits and veggies, adding seeds like flax will benefit your health even more.