Flaxseeds are trendy in today’s health food culture yet they have been around for thousands of years. They come from flowering Linum usitatissimum plant, they are cultivated for food and fiber. Flaxseeds even have use in the textile industry due to its strong durable fibers found in the plant’s stem. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed is approximately 100 calories and contains 4 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (this includes the omega 3s), 3.8 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbohydrate (4 of which is dietary fiber!)
Flax is most notably known for being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is most common omega-3 fatty acids found in plants and of course found in flax. This fatty acid has numerous health benefits and is considered an essential fatty meaning you must consume it in your diet. Some of the health benefits associated with ALA include improved cardiovascular health, raises HDL (the good cholesterol) and can help lower blood pressure. Research has linked lower incidence of certain cancers and enhanced brain health to ALA. Flaxseed are packed with fiber, another important nutrient. The current fiber recommendation is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. It is not surprising the most people struggle to meet this daily recommendation. Consuming flaxseed is a great way to promote gut health. Flaxseed is thought to improve blood sugar. This is most likely due to fiber content. Fiber can also increase levels of satiety or feelings of fullness. This in turn can help with weight management and weight loss. Another beneficial compound found in flax are lignans. Flaxseeds are thought to contain up to 800 times more lignans compared to other foods. Flax lignans a help reduce blood pressure, and combat inflammation in your arteries. Lignans possess powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants combat free radicals in the body and reduce the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
Now that you’re an expert in the flaxseed benefits, let’s talk about strategies to incorporate them into your daily regimen. There are two types of flaxseed; golden and brown. There is not much difference between the two in terms of nutrition. As far as flavor is concerned, both have a nutty flavor but golden tends to be a tad sweeter. Of course which you chose is based on personal preference. Our bodies can only reap the benefits of flaxseeds if they are ground. Flaxseeds can be purchased as the whole seed or ground. If buying ground, keep in mind they are more prone to rancidity. Be sure to keep with in an air tight container. You can always ground them yourself with a blender. Ground flaxseed can be added to smoothies or yogurts. They are a great alternative to eggs. Use them for baking cookies, muffins or even breads. Other ways of incorporating flaxseeds include using products like flaxseed oils or flaxseed milk. This food is definitely packed full of nutritional benefits and is a versatile food that everyone should incorporate into their everyday diet.
1. De Silva SF, Alcorn J. Flaxseed Lignans as Important Dietary Polyphenols for Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Chemistry, Pharmacokinetics, and Molecular Targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2019;12(2):68. Published 2019 May 5. doi:10.3390/ph12020068
2. Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1171. Published 2019 May 25. doi:10.3390/nu11051171
3. Kajla P, Sharma A, Sood DR. Flaxseed-a potential functional food source. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52(4):1857-1871. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y
Cassie Evans is a registered dietitian and a published researcher. She has studied sports nutrition and completed an internship with the University of Miami Sports Nutrition Team and Nova Southeastern University’s sports performance team. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports Science and received her CISSN in 2018. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Human and Sports Performance from the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
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