Flax seeds have been consumed as food for around 6,000 years and may have very well been the worlds first cultivated superfood!
Flax seed benefits could help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings, balance hormones, fight cancer and promote weight loss… and that’s just the beginning!
Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds that are the richest sources of a plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the world!
Another unique fact about flaxseeds is that they rank #1 source of lignans in human diets. Flaxseeds contain about 7 times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds.
Stunning Flaxseed Nutrition Facts
When you look at the nutritional benefits of flax seeds, there are many things that will catch your attention.
A 1 ounce (3 tbsp) serving of flaxseeds contains:
10 Flax Seed Benefits
1. High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs
One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract.
The mucilage can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which can increase nutrient absorption.
Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings.
You should aim to consume 30-40 g of high fiber foods daily.
2. Healthy Skin and Hair
If you want healthier skin, hair and nails then consider adding 2 tbsp of flax seeds to your smoothie or 1 tbsp of flax seed oil to your daily routine.
The ALA fats in flax seeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fats as well as b-vitamins which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema. This also applies to eye health as flax can reduce dry eye syndrome.
Flax seed oil is another great option since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. You can take 1-2 tbsp internally to hydrate skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used as a natural skin moisturizer.
3. Weight Loss
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 will help you feel satisfied longer so you will eat fewer calories overall which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation.
This is important for weight loss in that an inflamed body will tend to hold on to excess weight. Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads, or smoothies as part of your weight loss plan.
4. Lower Cholesterol
The journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels.
The soluble fiber content of flax seeds trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so that it unable to be absorbed. Soluble 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 lowering cholesterol overall.
5. Flaxseeds are Gluten-Free
Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains which are inflammatory where flax is anti-inflammatory. So, flax seeds are great for those who have Celiac disease or have a gluten-sensitivity. They may also be a good alternative to omega-3 fats in fish for people with a seafood allergy.
Another great aspect of flax being gluten-free is that it can be used as a grain-free option in cooking. I will often use it along with coconut flour in baking at home.
6. Flaxseeds are High in Antioxidants (Lignans)
Amongst its other incredible nutrition facts, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that provide us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health.
Polyphenols support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body.
Lignans are also known for their anti-viral and antibacterial properties, therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus.
7. Digestive Health
Maybe the biggest flax seed benefits come from it’s ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help protect the lining of the digestive tract and maintain GI health. It has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation.
You can also take 1-3 tbsp of flax seed oil with 8 oz of carrot juice to help naturally relieve constipation.
Flax is also very high in soluble and insoluble fiber which can also improve digestive health and is one of the highest magnesium foods in the world.
Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contains about 5 g of fiber or 1/4 of the RDA. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.
8. Flax Seeds for Cancer
Flax seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research discovered that consuming flax seeds may decrease the risk of breast cancer. The three lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol which naturally balance hormones which may be the reason flax seeds reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
9. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We hear a lot about the health benefits of fish oil or omega-3 fats. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats that are critical for optimal health. Although flaxseeds do not contain EPA or DHA, they do contain ALA, another type of omega-3 fat.
A study published in Nutrition Reviews has shown that approximately 20% of ALA can be converted into EPA, but only .5% of ALA is converted into DHA. Also, surprisingly gender may play a big role in conversion where young women had a 2.5-fold greater rate than men.
Regardless of conversion, ALA is still considered a healthy fat and should be included in a balanced diet.
10. Menopausal Symptoms
The lignans in the flax have been shown to have benefits for menopausal women. It can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy because lignans do have estrogenic properties.
These properties may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help menstruating women by helping maintain cycle regularity.
To experience the flax seed benefits for your hormones include 1-2 tbsp of flax meal in a breakfast smoothie along with 1 tbsp of flax seed oil.
How to Use Flax Seeds
There are many great ways to add these super seeds into your diet including adding them to homemade muffins, breads and cookies.
One of the most common questions about baking with flax seeds is, does baking have any effect on omega-3 fatty acid?
According to many studies, you can bake flax seeds at 300F for 3 hours and the omega-3’s (ALA) in flax seeds remained stable.
Tips for including flaxseed in your diet include:
Add 1-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie
Mix a tablespoon in with yogurt and raw honey
Bake ground flaxseeds into muffins, cookies and breads
Add to homemade sprouted granola
Can be mixed with water and used as an egg substitute
Flax Seeds vs. Flax Meal vs. Sprouted Flax
Flaxseeds are best consumed ground as our bodies cannot access the nutrients if they are eaten whole and they will pass through undigested.
You can grind the flax in a coffee grinder, this is best done immediately before eating them so they do not spend much time exposed to air or you can buy them pre-ground.
However the very best way to experience flax seed benefits is to consume them in their sprouted form. Soaking flax seeds and then sprouting them eliminates phytic acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption.
Like other sources of fiber including chia seeds and hemp seeds, make sure to take them with plenty of water or other fluids.