Our 101 Guide on Flax Seeds: 11 Benefits (Including Infographic), FAQ and Opinions from Nutrition Experts
So what are flax seeds exactly? And why are people so keen to include it in their meals, juices and smoothies? Are the health benefits of flax seeds really all that great? What do dietitians, Doctors and other experts say?
This guide tackles all those questions and much more.
Overview Of What Flax Seeds Are And Why They're So Good!
So many of us make our ambitious health resolutions each year, only to fail them desperately and give up on the whole idea altogether. What if there are much easier ways to eat healthily?
I’ve recently become a flaxseed convert. Besides all the numerous health benefits flaxseeds come with, it is so easy to incorporate into my daily diet so much so that it doesn’t feel like something I have to put in a lot of effort for.
I’ve since become an ambassador of sort for flaxseeds, encouraging my family, friends and readers to simply sprinkle away in their daily foods.
According to research, this superfood (also known as linseed) may help combat certain cancers and improve health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more. I wake up every day being thankful that I’ve never gone through that, but as Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Of course, that’s not where the benefits end and it’s not the only reason why I love flaxseeds.
Flaxseeds contain something called lignans, a certain type of plant chemical, that provide lots of antioxidant and fibre-related benefits. In fact, flaxseeds actually contain more than 800 times of lignans more than any other plant foods - talk about excessive nutrition!
Flaxseeds contain more than 800 times more lignans than any other plant foods!
To add to it all, studies have shown that flaxseeds as the #1 source of lignans in comparison to other foods, incorporating 7 times more lignans than other seeds.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing my findings as I researched more into this increasingly popular superfood so you may glean some new knowledge and learn to incorporate it in your diet too.
11 Benefits of Flax Seeds (Infographic)
Check out our infographic below on the 11 benefits of flaxseeds:
Benefit #1 Healthy Skin and Hair
Flaxseeds can help you get healthier skin, hair and nails. Also, they can help with skin conditions such as eczema or acne. It’s all thanks to its essential fatty acids that help promote healthier growth as well as bring that attractive glow to your skin and hair.
If you’re serious about harnessing the benefits of flaxseeds for beauty, try adding 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds to your daily smoothie.
Or if you’d prefer, take 1 or 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil instead for better skin and hair hydration. If you need a natural, soothing moisturizer, you can even mix flaxseed oil with essential oils and use it as your very own moisturizer.
Benefit #2 Weight Loss
Because of the high content of fiber and healthy fats, flaxseeds will make your brain lie to you, and make you think you’re fuller than you actually are. In more serious terms, it helps to suppress your sense of hunger and even helps to slow down your stomach in its process of emptying food.
This way, you feel full for longer periods and feel more satisfied after meals. It helps to eliminate the urge to snack in between meals or to reach for extra desserts and sweets.
Benefit #3 Reduces Depression
The reality is that depression is a silent killer. Instead of pumping your body full of antidepressants that come with some inevitable side effects, try adding flaxseed to your diet.
Studies have found that patients suffering from Depression also had “lower levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids” so if you boost those levels with foods like flaxseed, it should help to make up for the imbalance.
Benefit #4 Lowers Cholesterol
The consequences of high cholsterol are often dire. Left untreated, your arteries could become clogged, leading to heart attacks or strokes. This study found that if you want to naturally reduce your cholesterol levels, you can try adding flaxseeds.
Flaxseeds help to trap cholesterol in your digestive system so your body can’t absorb it. Do note though that the results of the study has shown that flaxseed can lower the cholesterol of men, and men alone. The results of the effects on women are not conclusive.
Benefit #5 Flaxseeds Are Gluten Free
Why not naturally replace gluten-containing products by using flax seeds? Another great aspect of flax being gluten-free is that it can be used as a grain-free option in cooking.
Benefit #6 High Content Of Antioxidants (Lignans)
Although I’ve mentioned it before, my favorite thing about flax seeds is how they’re packed with lignans. When you get past 40, you will understand why women look for new ways of stopping aging.
Although I haven’t met someone who’s managed to freeze time, women do recognize that flax seeds help with hormone health, premature aging, and gut health.
Benefit #7 Flaxseeds for Cancer
Studies also support that consuming flaxseeds may decrease the risk of breast, colon, skin and prostate cancer. This is done by naturally balancing hormones in the body. For example, flaxseeds have been shown to reduce skin melanoma tumors by up to 63%.
Another study on prostate cancer patients showed that flaxseeds seemed to reduce the creation of cancer cells.
Benefit #9 Liver Disease
Fortunately, it appears that flaxseed can actually decrease the risk of liver disease. A study found that patients who took flaxseed supplements daily had “decreased inflammation and cell damage in the liver”. Thanks to the soluble and insoluble fibre content of flaxseeds!
Benefit #10 high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the consumption of flaxseeds have been correlated with better brain health. In fact, some studies show that being deficient in Omega-3 Fatty Acids can have dire consequences such as brain deformity.
Flaxseeds can help to enhance visual and mental abilities, and has even been shown to increase the intellect of infants.
Benefit #11 Reducing Hypertension
Hypertension affects around 68 million Americans. As shocking as this statistic might be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can lower your blood pressure or prevent it from reaching high numbers by consuming flaxseeds or flaxseed oil!
In this scientific study researchers found that the consumption of flaxseed oil helped to significantly reduce the blood pressure of 59 middle-aged men.
Flax Seed Nutrition: The Fact Sheet
To help summarize all the nutrition information on flaxseeds, here’s a quick fact sheet for you:
Carbs and Fiber
Flax seeds are extremely high in fiber (two tablespoons add up to 15–25% of the daily recommended intake for both men and women), supporting weight loss, reducing sugar cravings and also helping with your all-time-favorite relief: pooping. They also only have 1.5 grams of carbs for every 100 grams, making them a low-carb choice.
Although no research can suggest that flax seeds should be the only source of protein you consume, they make up about 18g of protein out of 100g. That’s why it can help prevent heart disease, fungal infections or even diabetes.
Here’s the thing: this fact might shock you. Flax seeds contain 42% fat and they’re really rich in omega-3, which can help prevent chronic diseases. Now you may be thinking, Joana, isn’t that high fat content? The answer is Yes!, but that’s why you sprinkle them over food instead of consuming a whole lot!
Vitamins and Minerals
Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including thiamine (B1), copper, molybdenum, magnesium and phosphorus. All these are vital for your overall physical and mental health.
The Experts Corner
Although I’ve mentioned a variety of benefits which come from flax seeds, I also want to point out some important research which has proven that these health claims are scientifically backed up by research.
Dieticians and health nutritionists are increasingly trumpeting the health benefits of flaxseeds and here are what some of them think:
- For example, researchers at Iowa State University's Nutrition and Wellness Research Centre have revealed, as I’ve mentioned before, that flax seeds can actually lower cholesterol levels in men. The main author of the study, Suzanne Hendrich, suggested that for "people who can't take something like Lipitor, flaxseed could at least give you some of that cholesterol-lowering benefits."
- In a similar way, flaxseed has been shown to prevent hot flashes. The study was published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, and it revealed that hot flashes were less frequent in postmenopausal women who ate flax seeds. Dr Pruthi quoted "not only does flaxseed seem to alleviate hot flashes, but it appears to have overall health and psychological benefits as well".
- Among all the strange benefits a food could have, flax protects skin from being damaged by radiation, as the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown. The researchers revealed that the "study demonstrates that dietary flaxseed, already known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, works as both a mitigator and protector against radiation pneumonopathy."
-> What’s Better? Grounded Flaxseed or Flaxseed Oil?
In nutshell, I can tell you that you can surely benefit from both: flaxseed oil is highly concentrated in omega-3 fats and vitamin E, while the seeds have a high amount of fiber and lignans. So why not use both?
-> How Much Flaxseed Should I Take?
The best way is to start small: 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day should provide you with the nutrients your body needs, and as time goes by you can slowly build up to 3-6 tablespoons a day. Just like with any food high in fiber, remember to drink lots of water, otherwise you might be on the toilet for a while..
-> Flax seeds for weight loss: Does it help?
According to the American Dietetic Association, a diet which is high in dietary fiber also promotes weight loss.
In simple terms, flaxseed makes you feel fuller for a longer time, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why that is. If you’re not hungry all the time, you probably won’t binge on that amazing cake your colleague has just brought to work! Or maybe just a bit..
-> How Should I Take Flax Seeds?
You won’t be short on choices here! Ranging from sprinkling the seeds on your favourite cereal to making muffins, the world is your oyster. You can add flaxseed to smoothies, parfait, salads, or why not create your own bread? Most people use poppy seeds or sesame seeds, but knowing the benefits of this superfood, you may now want to give this a try.
Flaxseed Powder in Juices and Smoothies
Again, the choices are out there. Apples and coconut go amazingly with flax seeds, and this smoothie makes for a great meal replacement. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, why not try a blueberry and almond combination, or just a fresh citrus mix?
If not, you’re too picky! Regardless, try a chocolate-orange or oatmeal-banana combination which is guaranteed to satisfy any taste, guilt-free!
The Best Flax Seed Powder Brands
1. Flax USA/Stober Farms Organic Cold Milled Flax Seed 48 Ounce
A good source of fibre, this organic cold milled flaxseed is gluten-free and low carb. Another thing which clearly separates this brand from others is the fact that it’s organic, allowing people to fully feel that they’re eating or drinking something natural.
This flaxseed powder is finely milled and goes really well with cereals, fruit, salads, even steamed vegetables. I love having it with my daily breakfast cereal and I sometimes even add it to my orange juice. One of the best things with this brand is also that it doesn’t smell fishy or stale.
2. Viva Naturals - The BEST Organic Ground Flax Seed, Proprietary Cold-milled Technology
Grown in the central plains of Canada under the cool breeze of the wind, this product is packed with healthy omega-3’s, and prides itself on having an overall soft texture and uniform consistency. This means you won’t find any broken seeds. This is a non-GMO organic brand for people who respect both their bodies and the earth.
Viva Naturals also claims to use a unique cold milling method to help preserve the Omega-3’s from oxidizing. People love the smooth taste, mild smell and some people have said it makes a huge difference to their digestive health.
3. Food to Live Organic Ground Golden Flaxseed
This brand advertises its product as an excellent source for nutrients and vitamins to be used when on a weight loss diet. Although not as famous as the other two products I’ve mentioned before, reviewers swear by its high content of fibre and fat, ranking it as potentially superior to other kinds. Use this flaxseed for baking breads and cakes and add it to your fruit smoothies.
Food To Live is also a brand that prides itself on the highest safety and quality standards so that you can consume with peace of mind. They also recommend that these seeds always be consumed ground and suggest that you can even grind them with your common coffee grinder.