What are the Benefits of Flaxseed?

Some people refer to flaxseeds as “functional food,” meaning that everyone can eat them to improve their health.

In ancient Egypt and China, people cultivated flax as a crop. It has played a role in Ayurvedic medicine in Asia for thousands of years.

Today, flaxseed is available in oil, powder, tablet, capsule, and meal forms. People use it as a dietary supplement to help prevent constipation, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and many other conditions.

Flaxseeds contain nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and omega-3, essential for nutrition.

Consuming these nutrients can help reduce the risk of various conditions.

Benefits of Flaxseed
Benefits of Flaxseed

Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseeds contain specific nutrients known for various health benefits.

Like other plant-based foods, flaxseed is rich in antioxidants. They help expel molecules known as free radicals from the body, aiding in the prevention of many diseases.

Free radicals arise as a result of natural processes and environmental stress factors. Excessive free radicals in the body can lead to oxidative stress, causing cell damage and disease. Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals from the body.

Flaxseeds are a good source of lignans, which have demonstrated antioxidant properties.

According to some scientists, flaxseeds might be up to 800 times richer in lignans compared to other foods.

The potential health benefits of flaxseed are discussed in more detail below.

  1. Flaxseeds are Nutrient-Rich

The typical serving size for ground flaxseeds is 1 tablespoon (7 grams).

Just one tablespoon provides a good amount of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of certain vitamins and minerals.

One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains:

Calories: 37

Protein: 1.3 grams

Carbohydrates: 2 grams

Fiber: 1.9 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 Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI)

Vitamin B6: 2% of the RDI

Folate: 2% of the RDI

Calcium: 2% of the RDI

Iron: 2% of the RDI

Magnesium: 7% of the RDI

Phosphorus: 4% of the RDI

Potassium: 2% of the RDI

Interestingly, the health benefits of flaxseeds are primarily attributed to their omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber content.

  1. Flaxseeds Contain High Levels of Omega-3 Oils

If you are a vegetarian or do not eat fish, flaxseed might be your best source of omega-3 fats.

They are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the most plant-based omega-3 fatty acid.

ALA is one of the two essential fatty acids that you must obtain from your diet, as your body can’t produce it.

  1. Flaxseeds are Rich in Dietary Fiber

Just one tablespoon of flaxseeds contains 3 grams of fiber, which accounts for about 8-12% of the recommended daily intake for men and women, respectively.

Flaxseeds contain two types of dietary fiber: soluble (20-40%) and insoluble (60-80%).

Both types of fibers are fermented by bacteria in the colon, which helps bulk up the stool and lead to more bowel movements.

On one hand, soluble fiber increases the viscosity of your intestinal contents and slows down your digestion. It helps control blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

On the other hand, insoluble fiber allows more water to bind to the stool, increases its volume, and results in softer stools. It is beneficial for preventing constipation and for people with irritable bowel syndrome or diverticular disease.

  1. Flaxseeds May Lower Cholesterol

Another health benefit of flaxseeds is their ability to lower cholesterol levels. In a study of individuals with high cholesterol, consuming 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of flaxseed powder daily for three months reduced total cholesterol by 17% and “bad” LDL cholesterol by approximately 20%.

Another study in people with diabetes found that taking 1 tablespoon (10 grams) of flaxseed powder daily for a month increased “good” HDL cholesterol by 12%.

Daily consumption of 30 grams of flaxseed in postmenopausal women reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by approximately 7% and 10%, respectively.

These effects are believed to be due to the fiber in flaxseed binding to bile salts and being excreted from the body.

To replace these bile salts, cholesterol is pulled from your blood into your liver, lowering blood cholesterol levels.

This is certainly good news for those looking to lower their cholesterol.

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  1. Flaxseed May Help Control Blood Sugar

Type 2 diabetes is a significant global health issue characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body’s inability to secrete insulin or resistance to it.

Some studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes who added 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder to their daily diet for at least a month saw an 8-20% reduction in blood sugar levels.

This blood sugar-lowering effect is primarily due to the insoluble fiber content in flaxseeds. Research shows that insoluble fiber slows down the release of sugar into the blood, lowering blood sugar levels.

Overall, flaxseeds can be a beneficial and nutritious addition to the diet of individuals with diabetes.

  1. May Reduce Arthritis Symptoms

According to the Arthritis Foundation, flaxseeds may help reduce joint pain and stiffness.

While they add that there is a lack of evidence supporting its use for this purpose, the ALA in flaxseeds may help reduce inflammation.

  • In powder form: (one tablespoon per day)
  • As an oil: (one to three tablespoons per day)
  • In capsules: (1,300-3,000 mg per day)

Ways to Use Flaxseed

Flaxseed can be added to many common foods. You can try the following in your daily routine:

  • Add them to water and drink as part of your daily fluid intake.
  • Use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing.
  • Sprinkle flaxseeds over your hot or cold breakfast cereal.
  • Mix them into your favorite yogurt.
  • Incorporate them into biscuits, muffins, bread, or other baked goods.
  • Blend them into your smoothies or shakes to thicken.
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