Top 8 Benefits of Flaxseed
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is in almost every health food store nowadays, and many people swear by it. You have probably already wondered about its benefits and whether you should be including it in your diet. Which is why we’d like to discuss the benefits of flaxseed today.
Flaxseed’s growing popularity is well-deserved. It’s a tiny seed that contains plenty of nutrients and can be used in lots of different recipes. Before you rush to buy some, however, keep in mind that in order to be able to properly digest it, you need to get ground flax seed (whole flax is very difficult to digest for the human body). You can directly buy it ground, or, alternatively, you can grind it yourself, for example in a coffee grinder.
#1. Improves Digestive Health
Flaxseed contains a lot of dietary fiber, while at the same time being very low in net carbs, which makes it an excellent ingredient for low carb and keto diet and will help you improve your overall digestive health.
One tablespoon of ground flaxseed (7 g) contains 37 calories, 0.1 net carbs (2 g total carbs and 1.9 g fiber), 3 g fats, and 1.3 g protein (1).
Have you been constipated since starting keto? Try adding a tablespoon (or two) of ground flaxseed to your salad, smoothie, or to a soup. It won’t affect the taste too much but will rather make the texture slightly crunchier (in salads) or thicker (in liquids), while helping you go to the toilet regularly and without discomfort.
#2. Protects Your Heart
A part of flaxseed’s recent popularity is due to its high content of Omega-3 fatty acids – one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains around 1.8 g of them. While it doesn’t contain the most beneficial types of Omega-3s, EPA and DHA, which are found in fish and fish oil, it contains ALA, which also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (2).
Moreover, the human body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA (different populations score differently), which will improve the overall health of your cardiovascular system.
#3. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Flaxseed is antihypertensive, i.e. helps reduce high blood pressure – excellent news for anyone struggling with lowering theirs (3).
Patients ingesting 30 g of ground flaxseed over a period of 6 months, managed to reduce their systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 and 7 mmHg, compared to the control group (4).
This is actually a big deal, and such a big decrease lowers the risk of stroke and of heart disease significantly. High blood pressure, even if it presents itself without any symptoms or discomfort, is a major risk factor for your cardiovascular health, so if you’re suffering from it, the earlier you take measures to lower it, the better (5).
#4. May Reduce The Risk Of Some Types Of Cancer
Due to its high content of lignans (between 75 to 800 times higher than other plants), which are plant compounds that have antioxidant properties, flaxseed may reduce the risk of cancer, and in particular breast and prostate cancer (6, 7).
Additionally, some promising results in laboratory and animal studies have shown potential benefits in reducing the risk of skin and colon cancer.
#5. Improves Your Cholesterol Profile
Soluble fiber in flaxseed binds with both dietary cholesterol and bile (made from cholesterol) and helps your body excrete them, which makes your body use more of your blood cholesterol to replenish bile. Neat!
#6. Improves Symptoms Of Menopause
Flaxseed can help alleviate symptoms of hormonal disbalances during menopause and help with specific symptoms, such as hot flashes.
This has been achieved with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day, and maximum benefits were achieved in the second week. The overall hot flash score reduced by 57% in average. There is some debate on the results of this particular study (published in 2007), however, it’s still something worth considering if you’re currently struggling with hot flashes due to menopause (10).
Another study on the effects of flaxseed on menopausal symptoms concluded that the quality of life increased and the menopausal symptoms decreased among the 140 menopausal women who consumed flaxseed for 3 months (11).
#7. Helps Weight Loss
Additionally, it helps control blood sugar, which is already one of the many benefits of the keto diet, and might, therefore, make carb cravings and fatigue in the early stages of the keto diet easier to manage.
#8. Versatile Ingredient For Cooking
You can add flaxseed to plenty of different dishes – smoothies, yogurts, baked goods, sauces, salads, soups – you name it. It will thicken the texture of most liquids, which might be a desired effect, however, it can also pass unnoticed if you don’t put too much of it.
As the name suggests, it is a seed and not a grain, which makes it an excellent grain substitute for baked goods. Moreover, it is gluten-free, which makes it way less inflammatory than wheat and is great news for those of you who are sensitive to gluten.
How To Use Flaxseed
Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoons of ground flaxseed in water or smoothies and drink it. If you haven’t tried flaxseed before and are not used to a high-fiber diet, start slowly with a small dose. Make sure to drink plenty of water to prevent blockage.
You can use flaxseed meal in many gluten-free baking recipes and low carb snacks such as:
- Blueberry Muffins with Almond Meal and Flaxseed
- Flaxseed Meal Tortillas
- Flaxseed Chips
- Almond Flour Flaxseed Pancakes
- Zucchini Fries With Flaxseed Meal
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Keto Oatmeal
Where To Buy Flaxseed
When buying flaxseed, remember to look for ground flaxseed (also known as milled flaxseed, or flax meal), as whole flax is difficult to digest. If you buy whole seeds, you make to grind them up into powder. Buy ground flaxseed in small quantities and store it in the fridge or in the freezer to prevent it from getting rancid, as it is relatively unstable.
You can buy flaxseed at the grocery store, health food store or online. Some good brands you can choose from are Viva Naturals and Spectrum. They are USDA certified organic, non GMO, no preservatives and have great taste!
Flaxseed oil is difficult to store for the same reason – it quickly goes rancid. This is why we recommend ground flaxseed and sticking to other fats, such as coconut, avocado and olive oil, and animal fats.
Are you already using flaxseed? What is your favourite flaxseed recipe? Don’t forget to share your experience and tips in the comments below!
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