Flaxseeds have been consumed as food for around 6,000 years ago and may have very well been the worlds first cultivated superfood.
Today, flaxseeds are emerging as a “super food” as more scientific research points to their health benefits.
Flaxseed is available in the form of seeds, oils, powder, tablets, capsules, and flour. People use it as a dietary supplement to prevent constipation, diabetes, high cholesterol, and several other conditions.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed weighing 7 g contains:
- Calories: 37
- Protein: 1.3 grams
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Total fat: 3 grams
- Saturated fat: 0.3 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.5 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2.0 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 1,597 mg
- Vitamin B1: 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the DV
- Folate: 2% of the DV
- Calcium: 2% of the DV
- Iron: 2% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 4% of the DV
- Potassium: 2% of the DV
The nutrients in flaxseed include lignans, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), or omega-3. Consuming these nutrients may help lower the risk of various conditions.
How much flaxseed should you eat a day?
While there are no specific recommendations for flaxseed intake, 1-2 tablespoons a day is considered a healthy amount. One tablespoon of flaxseed contains 37 calories, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat (includes the omega-3 fatty acids), 0.5 gram of monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of dietary fiber.
Here are health benefits of Flaxseed.
High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs. One of the most extraordinary benefits of flaxseeds is that they contain high in fiber, but low in carbs.
With so much fiber packed in each tiny seed, adding flaxseeds to your diet promotes regular bowel movements and can improve your digestive health.
Flaxseeds For Weight Loss. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flaxseeds and walnuts may improve obesity and support weight loss.
Flaxseeds keep you full for longer and may help you manage your weight by controlling your appetite.
Lower Cholesterol. The journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flaxseeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels.
The high fiber content of flax seeds can help lower cholesterol and may play an important role in improving heart health.
Flaxseeds are High in Antioxidants. Amongst its other incredible nutrition facts, flaxseeds are also packed with antioxidants.
Flaxseeds contain a group of nutrients called lignans, which have powerful antioxidant and estrogen properties. They may help in preventing breast and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer.
Boost Heart Health and Lower Risk of Stroke. Flaxseeds are a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Plant-based ALA fatty acids are proven to have heart health benefits and are linked to a lower risk of stroke.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend eating more fiber and omega-3s to boost heart health. Lignans, too, may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Flaxseeds for Lower Blood Pressure. Flaxseeds have been proven to lower blood pressure and are especially helpful for those with high blood pressure.
A Canadian study found eating 30 grams of flaxseeds daily for six months lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg and 7 mmHg, respectively.
Diabetes and Control Blood Sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem worldwide. It’s characterized by high blood sugar levels as a result of either the body’s inability to secrete insulin or resistance to it.
Flaxseeds may lower blood sugar due to their insoluble fiber content. They can be a beneficial addition to the diet of people with diabetes.
Flaxseed Side Effects and Safety
Flaxseed can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, stomachache, and nausea. Higher doses are likely to cause more gastrointestinal side effects.
There is some concern that taking large amounts of flaxseed could block the intestines due to the bulk-forming laxative effects of flaxseed. Flaxseed should be taken with plenty of water to prevent this from happening.
Taking flaxseed extracts that contain lignans in concentrated form is POSSIBLY SAFE. Lignans are the chemicals in flaxseed that are thought to be responsible for many of the effects.
Some clinical research shows that a specific flaxseed lignan extract can be safely used for up to 12 weeks. Raw or unripe flax seed is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Flaxseed in these forms is thought to be poisonous.
Taking flaxseed by mouth during pregnancy is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Flaxseed can act like the hormone estrogen.
Some healthcare providers worry that this might harm the pregnancy, although to date there is no reliable clinical evidence about the effects of flaxseed on pregnancy outcomes.
There is some evidence that flaxseed can lower blood sugar levels and could drop too low. If you have diabetes and use flaxseed, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
Partially defatted flaxseed might increase triglyceride levels. If your triglyceride levels are too high, don’t take flaxseed.
Flaxseeds might lower diastolic blood pressure. Theoretically, taking flaxseeds might cause blood pressure to become too low in individuals with high blood pressure who are taking blood pressure-lowering medication.