Continuing with my trend on the health benefits of seeds, today I am discussing flaxseeds and all the goodies they contain as well as why they are a great addition to your daily intake! Flax comes in multiple forms that include flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed. The ground version is recommended by many experts due to research showing that ground flaxseed is easier digested than whole flaxseed which can sometime pass through the digestive system undigested which means you won’t get all the benefits.
Flaxseeds are considered a functional food due to their rich content of a-linolenic acid (omega-3’s), lignans (aka polyphenols), and fiber. The many polyphenolic compounds found in flaxseed provide antioxidant benefits which help prevent and reduce risk of chronic disease. Flaxseed oil has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, chia seeds, fish oil, walnuts, and arugula. And to top it off, the lignans found in flax are being studied for their potential anti-cancer properties.
Side Note: lignans are phytoestrogens which are abundantly available in fiber rich plants like cereals, legumes, and vegetables but flaxseeds contain about 75-800 times more lignans than all of the above listed sources (wowzersss).
1 Tbsp of Ground FlaxSeed Provides:
|Dietary Fiber||1.9 g|
|Thiamine||0.1 mg (10% of Recommended Dietary Allowance)|
|A-linolenic Acid||1.6 g (145% of Recommended Dietary Allowance)|
|Total Fat||2.95 g|
|Magnesium||27 mg (10% of Recommended Dietary Allowance)|
*Not a full nutrition chart, refer to Supertracker for a more detailed breakdown of nutrient composition.
And in case anyone was curious about the detailed Recommended Dietary Allowances for Omega-3’s, I obtained this table from The Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board.
|Birth to 6 months*||0.5 g||0.5 g|
|7–12 months*||0.5 g||0.5 g|
|1–3 years**||0.7 g||0.7 g|
|4–8 years**||0.9 g||0.9 g|
|9–13 years**||1.2 g||1.0 g|
|14–18 years**||1.6 g||1.1 g||1.4 g||1.3 g|
|19-50 years**||1.6 g||1.1 g||1.4 g||1.3 g|
|51+ years**||1.6 g||1.1 g|
*As total omega-3s
- Flaxseed oil, fibers and flax lignans have been shown to have potential health benefits such as in reduction of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, autoimmune and neurological disorders.
- Flax protein has been shown to help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and in supporting the immune system.
- The alpha-linolenic-acid’s found in flaxseed have been shown to lower risk for hypertension and lower systolic blood pressure.
- Ingestion of flaxseed or ALA (alpha-linolenic-acid) may help in preventing or treating a variety of diabetic complications. For example, research found that in 1062 adults older than 40 years of age with self-reported diagnosed diabetes, dietary intake of ALA was positively associated with lower odds of peripheral neuropathy.
- Flaxseed’s insoluble fiber content aids in the treatment of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.
How Do I Add Flaxseeds to my Diet?
- Flaxseed can be incorporated into foods such as baked foods (cookies, breads, etc.), breakfast cereals, and beverages, its nutty flavor is a great addition to a variety of foods.
- Flaxseeds are always a great addition in smoothies and smoothie bowls (much like chia seeds)
- Products line the aisles in grocery stores containing flax including baked foods, juices, milk, and dairy products, muffins, dry pasta products, and macaroni. Bob’s Red Mill contains tons of flax products that I love! Check Out Their Products Here
- I love adding ground flaxseed to yogurt and fruit as well as sprinkling on top of my bowl of oatmeal.
And as always, make sure you discuss with a Registered Dietitian prior to adding large amounts of any supplement or food into your diet if taking medications due to the possibility of food and drug interactions.
Cinthia Scott, Registered Dietitian, LD, CNSC
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids (macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2005.
- Rodriguez-Leyva D, Bassett CM, McCullough R, Pierce GN. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. The Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 2010;26(9):489-496.
- Kajla P, Sharma A, Sood DR. Flaxseed—a potential functional food source. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015;52(4):1857-1871. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y.
- Goyal A, Sharma V, Upadhyay N, Gill S, Sihag M. Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2014;51(9):1633-1653. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9.