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11 Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds + 7 Ways To Eat Them

11 Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds + 7 Ways To Eat Them March 7, 2018

Super-rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant in lignans that offer powerful antioxidant effects, flaxseeds can be considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. These shiny and nutty seeds that come from the flax plant have an earthy aroma and possess various benefits. To know more about the benefits of flaxseeds just continue reading.

Table Of Contents

What Can Flaxseeds Do For You?

Two of the most important nutrients in flaxseeds are omega-3s and lignans. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains 1.8 grams of omega-3s. And they contain 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Also, flaxseeds contain fiber, both soluble and insoluble. While the omega-3s fight inflammation and boost heart health, the lignans help prevent ailments like cancer. And the fiber improves digestive health.

Well, there is a lot more. Which is what we will see next.

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What Are The Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds?

1. Flaxseeds Help Fight Cancer

Several studies on postmenopausal women showed that supplementing diets with flaxseeds can cut the risk of breast cancer (1). The seeds can also reduce tumor growth in patients with breast cancer. The omega-3 fatty acids in the seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of several forms of cancer.

Lignans were also found to reduce the growth of cancerous tumors (2). Research also shows how flaxseeds can help prevent prostate cancer (3).

2. Aid Diabetes Treatment

Studies showed that flaxseed supplementation lowered fasting blood sugar levels by 20 percent. More importantly, the seeds contain mucilage, which is a gel-forming fiber that can slow digestion and the resultant release of glucose into the blood.

Preliminary studies have also shown that flaxseeds can delay the onset of diabetes. They contain a compound called SDG, which cuts the risk of type 1 diabetes and delays the onset of type 2 (4).

3. Flaxseeds Protect The Heart

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The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds have been found to cut the risk of coronary heart disease. They also help improve the functioning of the arteries (5). Another Costa Rican study showed that individuals consuming more of ALA (the type of omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds) have a lower risk of heart attack (6).

4. Fight Inflammation

Two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds contain over 140% of the daily value of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to fight inflammation. The ALA in the seeds were found to decrease pro-inflammatory compounds in the body (7).

The omega-3s in flaxseeds can also help treat inflammatory arthritis.

Did You Know? 

Linen made from flax fibers was a symbol of purity in ancient Egypt. In fact, this linen was also used in the mummification process.

5. Can Aid Weight Loss

Given that flaxseeds are rich in fiber, they can aid weight management. And the omega-3s in the seeds, the healthy fats, can suppress appetite and improve satiety – and this also can help in weight loss.

The lignans in flaxseeds can improve cell function, and this might aid fat burning. The lignans also boost metabolism, and this also aids weight loss. Ground flaxseeds work best for weight loss.

Studies also showed that flaxseeds could increase fat excretion, thereby decreasing the amount of fat content in the body. This can promote weight loss in its own way (8).

[ Read: Flaxseeds For Weight Loss ]

6. Enhance Digestive Health

The soluble fiber in flaxseeds aids digestion. Ground flaxseeds work better as eating them whole can simply make them pass through your system without getting digested.

The most common use of flaxseeds involves their laxative properties. This basically means the seeds can make you poop. They can help treat constipation too, but ensure you drink enough water after consuming them.

The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds can also reduce inflammation and protect the lining of the GI tract. And in people with healthy digestive systems, the seeds promote the beneficial gut flora.

7. Treats Menstrual Symptoms

As per studies, consuming flaxseeds can regularize ovulation. Women who regularly ate flaxseeds were found to ovulate during every menstrual cycle. Adding flaxseeds to your diet can also reduce menstrual cramps.

Another important piece of research tells us how flaxseeds can ease hot flashes (9).

8. Flaxseeds Are Gluten-Free

Flaxseeds work as a great replacement for all those gluten-containing grains in your diet. In case you are gluten-intolerant, most grains could be hard to digest. And this is where flaxseeds come to the rescue. They can be a good choice for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (10).

9. Might Be Beneficial During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Flaxseeds are a rich source of fiber and omega-3s and a good source of protein – and a pregnant woman requires all these nutrients. Fiber helps treat constipation that often occurs during pregnancy. And the protein and omega-3s are critical for the child’s health.

However, we recommend you talk to your doctor before taking flaxseeds for this purpose as there is some conflicting evidence in this regard.

10. Make Your Skin Glow

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The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds greatly contribute to skin health and appearance. They keep your skin hydrated and make it smooth. They prevent the everyday irritants and pollutants from entering your skin pores. They also prevent water loss from the skin. Improving the skin’s moisture levels can also help reduce wrinkles.

Keeping your skin moisturized prevents it from drying out – and this makes it glow. Dry skin can also cause other skin ailments like psoriasis and eczema – all of which can be prevented by flaxseeds.

You can either rub plain flaxseed oil gently into your skin or consume them on a daily basis. The anti-inflammatory properties of flaxseeds can also treat skin inflammation. And given the seeds contain powerful antioxidants, they can also help prevent skin cancer.

You might also want to use a flaxseed facial. Simply mix two tablespoons of raw honey, a teaspoon of fresh lime juice, and a tablespoon of flaxseed oil. Apply the mixture directly to your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes and wash with normal water. Do it in the mornings, every day.

11. Flaxseeds Strengthen Hair

Brittle hair is often attributed to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Being rich in these fatty acids, flaxseeds can help strengthen your hair and combat hair fall. They can also help prevent a condition called cicatricial alopecia, which is a permanent hair loss condition caused by inflammation.

You can prepare a hair gel using flaxseeds. Simply put two cups of water on boil. As the water begins to boil, add four tablespoons of flaxseeds to it. Cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Now, turn off the heat and strain the infusion. Apply the resultant gel to your scalp every morning and then wash as usual after 20 minutes.

[ Read: How To Use Flax Seeds For Hair Growth ]

These are the benefits of flaxseeds. We already saw a few of the important nutrients in the seeds. How about taking a look at the entire nutrient profile?

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What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Flaxseeds?

PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
Energy534 Kcal27%
Carbohydrates28.8 g22%
Protein18.3 g32.5%
Total Fat42.16 g170%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber27.3 g68%
Vitamins
Folates87 µg22%
Niacin3.08 mg19%
Pantothenic acid0.985 mg20%
Pyridoxine0.473 mg36%
Riboflavin0.161 mg12%
Thiamin1.64 mg137%
Vitamin A0 IU0%
Vitamin C0.6 mg1%
Vitamin E19.95 mg133%
Vitamin K4.3 µg3.5%
Electrolytes
Sodium30 mg2%
Potassium813 mg17%
Minerals
Calcium255 mg22.5%
Copper1.12 mg124%
Iron5.73 mg72%
Magnesium392 mg98%
Manganese2.48 mg108%
Zinc4.34 mg39%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß0 µg

Lutein-zeaxanthin651 µg

Though flaxseeds possess a vast array of nutrients, it is important to remember that they are not magic pills. There is no one-food-for-all-ailments when it comes to good health. Consistently making the right dietary choices is key.

Did You Know? 

Flax fibers are used in the paper industry for manufacturing cigarettes and banknotes.

And by the way, how can you take flaxseeds?

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How To Eat Flaxseeds

There are a few ground rules:

  1. The best way to consume flaxseeds is in their sprouted form. Soaking them and then sprouting them removes phytic acid and also enhances mineral absorption. You can simply soak the seeds for 10 minutes in warm water or for two hours in cold water.
  2. Flaxseeds are best consumed ground. This is because our bodies cannot receive the nutrients if they are taken in the whole form.
  3. Ensure you take the seeds with plenty of water.
  4. You can add the seeds to your morning cereal or breakfast smoothie. You can also add them to salads.
  5. Also, ensure you don’t heat flaxseed oil as its composition might change, rendering it not as beneficial. But surprisingly, the nutrients in whole flaxseeds are heat-stable. Hence, you can roast flaxseeds and still enjoy the benefits. The nutrients won’t be destroyed.
  6. You can add flaxseeds to your Paleo diet as well. The seeds are technically Paleo because they are seeds and not
  7. The best time to eat flaxseeds is early in the morning, along with your breakfast.

That’s how you take them. But don’t take them in excess as it can lead to some undesirable side effects.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Flaxseeds?

  • Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Since flaxseeds might lower blood sugar levels, individuals already on diabetes medication can experience alarmingly low blood sugar levels if they take flaxseeds.

  • Lower Blood Pressure

Flaxseeds might lower blood pressure way too much. Hence, people on blood pressure medications should exercise caution.

  • Slow Down Blood Clotting

As the seeds might slow down blood clotting, people with bleeding disorders must not take them. Also, don’t take flaxseeds at least two weeks before surgery.

  • Might Aggravate Hormone-Sensitive Conditions

Flaxseeds can mimic the hormone estrogen, and this can aggravate hormone-sensitive conditions like cancers of the breast, uterus, and ovaries, and also uterine fibroids.

  • Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Since the seeds can mimic estrogen, they might cause issues in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Please consult a doctor before using them.

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Conclusion

Easy to buy, and easier to take – flaxseeds could be a real boon to your health. Include them in your diet right away.

And do tell us how this post has helped you. Simply leave a comment in the box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How many flaxseeds can you take in a day?

You can limit the serving size to less than 5 tablespoons (or 50 grams) a day.

Can you substitute flaxseeds with chia seeds?

Yes – chia seeds are also equally nutritious and beneficial. They look similar too.

How to store flaxseeds?

Whether you purchase ground flaxseeds or grind them at home, you can store them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Even whole flaxseeds can be stored this way, and they can last for 6 months.

Where can you buy flaxseeds?

You can get the seeds from your nearest departmental store or even buy them online at Amazon or Costco.

Can you eat flaxseeds raw?

Yes, it is fine to eat the seeds raw. But ensure you ground them – as studies have shown that eating ground flaxseeds helps your body better absorb their nutrients. Also, store raw flaxseeds in the fridge – or the oils in them might make them go rancid.

Do flaxseeds cause acne?

In some cases, yes. This happens if your body doesn’t accept the seeds. Stop using them and consult your doctor.

But, in general, flaxseeds aid acne treatment. The omega-3s in the seeds fight inflammation, which is one major cause of acne. The same goes for flaxseed oil as well – no studies support the link between the oil and acne. However, if your body doesn’t accept the oil, it might react through acne breakouts.

What are flaxseeds called in different languages?

Flaxseeds are called semillas de lino in Spanish, budhur alkitaan in Arabic, alsee ka beej in Hindi, avise ginjalu in Telugu, ali vidai in Tamil, and agasi in Kannada.

Can you feed flaxseeds to dogs?

Yes, but ensure you use only organic and cold pressed flaxseeds. But even before you do that, do consult a vet.

References

  1. Flaxseed”. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
  2. Flax and flaxseed oil”. US National Library of Medicine.
  3. The benefits of flaxseed”. United States Department of Agriculture.
  4. Flaxseed and diabetes”. US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Does alpha-linolenic…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Alpha-linolenic acid…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Anti-inflammatory benefits of flaxseed”. Arthritis Foundation.
  8. Flaxseed dietary fibers…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Flaxseed may ease hot flashes”. WebMD.
  10. Acceptability of grains and other foods”. Canadian Celiac Association.

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