Flax seeds are nutrient dense, high in fiber and offer multiple health benefits. In recent years these seeds have become immensely popular owing to their multiple uses in beauty & health. Experts call them a superfood and advise to include them in your daily diet. They have become a trendy food item & are a part of every other food we eat. These seeds have become so popular that they have even been added to pet foods.
Flax seed also known as linseed comes from the flax plant that grows all over Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. The flax plant is mainly grown for its seeds which can be ground into a powder, pressed to form oil or spun into linen.
These seeds are usually golden brown to reddish-brown in color and contain phytoestrogen, which is very similar to human estrogen. Flaxseeds also have oil and fiber.
Flaxseeds offer numerous health benefits & regular consumption can boost our overall physical and mental health.
Flax Seeds nutrition facts
The flax plants are one of the oldest cultivated crops and are of two different types golden brown and reddish brown. However, these are only color differences & both forms are equally nutritious.
One tablespoon of ground flax seeds contain:-
- Protein – 1.3g
- Carbohydrates – 2g
- Fibre – 1.9g
- Total fat – 3g
- Sodium – 2.1mg
- Potassium – 57mg
- Iron – 2% of RDI
- Calcium – 1% of RDI
- Magnesium – 6% of RDI
- Calories – 37
Flax seeds’ benefits for health
Though there are a number of health benefits of flax seeds, their popularity & consumption is mainly owing to their weight loss property. A good amount of research is also being conducted to study the weight loss tendencies of flax seeds.
Flax Seeds’ benefits for Weight Loss
Flax seeds are believed to play a helpful role in your diet if you want to lose or manage your weight & if you are obese or moderately obese. This is primarily because of its high fiber content in form of mucilage. Fiber helps you feel full for a longer duration of time which results in a lower intake of calories daily. In simple words, flax seeds help to suppress your appetite by making you feel full. As a result, you don’t end up munching every now & then to satiate your hunger.
Flax seeds can be a great addition to your diet if you are a foodie & frequently feel the urge to snack in between meals or simply lower your unhealthy food consumption. In addition, flax seeds can also help to cut down on your appetite.
A research study suggests that you could reduce hunger and overall appetite by adding merely 2.5 grams of ground flax seeds to your beverages. Since flax seeds are very rich in fiber in form of mucilage, they slow down the digestion in your stomach, triggering various hormones that control appetite. As a result, flax seeds make you feel full for more extended periods, ultimately helping you lose weight.
Additionally, after reviewing a total of 45 different studies in 2017, researchers concluded that incorporating flax seeds into your diet for a few weeks can lead to a reduction in waist circumference, body weight and body mass index (BMI).
While loosing weight, it is very important to incorporate a good source of protein in your diet & here too, flax seeds offer further advantage as a 100gms of flax seeds contain a good 18gms of protein.
There are plenty of ways to eat flaxseeds. You can eat them directly either whole or ground. In addition, you can try many other ways to incorporate flax seeds into your daily diet.
FLAXSEED DRINK FOR WEIGHT LOSS
To prepare the weight loss drink, you’ll need:
- 6 to 8 ounces of hot water
- 1 tsp. of freshly ground flax seed
- 1 tsp of lemon juice for flavor
Combine the hot water with the ground flaxseed and stir well. Add lemon juice for taste.
This tasty and healthy drink can boost your metabolism. It can also help you feel full for longer and improve your digestion. You can drink this once every day as you try to loose weight.
Add flaxseeds to a cup of tea to help you relax while also losing the stubborn belly fat and preventing weight gain. Here’s how to make the weight loss tea:-
- 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
- 1.5 cup water
- A pinch of cinnamon
- Lemon juice
- Boil 1.5 cup of water.
- Add the flaxseeds powder and a pinch of cinnamon.
- Boil for another 5 to 10 minutes on low heat & with lid. Don’t forget to stir occasionally.
- Add lemon juice for flavor.
People with gastric issues should be cautious & can avoid cinnamon.
AVOID ADDING HONEY as it will add calories too apart from the additional benefits.
Flax Seeds are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that your body needs for a number of functions . Flaxseed is the richest plant source of the ω-3 fatty acid, α-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed oil is quite low in saturated fatty acids (9 %), moderate in monosaturated fatty acids (18 %), and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid (73%). One tablespoon of ground flax seeds consists of around 1.8 gms of omega-3 fatty acids.
Our bodies do not have capacity to produce ALA naturally. So we need to obtain it from our food. A research study proved that there is a link between consumption of ALA to a lower risk of heart attacks. In addition, it suggests that alpha-Linolenic acid is a more viable cardioprotective alternative to fatty acids. Another study found a link between ALA & a decreased risk of stroke. It’s also helpful in the prevention of asthma & atherosclerosis.
Beyond these, there is another very helpful function of flax seeds which is their role in improving lifestyle of patients of osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis. Being rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3-fatty acids, flax seeds help to reduce inflammation & the associated pain. Their warming effect starts working from day 1 however the effect on reducing inflammation takes some time to show proper results.
Flax Seeds May Help Lower the Risk of Cancer
These seeds are very rich in lignans, which are plant compounds having phytoestrogen The phytoestrogen behaves like the human estrogen. Lignans possess good antioxidant properties too. These compounds are found to be capable to lower the risk of developing different types of cancer and are extremely useful in improving overall health. The percentage content of lignans in flax seeds is up to 800 times higher than other plant foods.
A study involving clinical research, in vitro studies & animal studies suggests that flax seeds can lower the risk of development of breast cancer by a huge fraction of 33-70% especially in premenopausal women. It can even reduce the growth of tumours in patients with breast cancer. Another study also proved that daily consumption of flax seeds & not flax seed oil can lower the risk of development of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancers.
A recently completed long term study finds a good link between eating plant-based foods rich in certain nutrients especially lignans and a lower risk of heart disease.
In this study 200,000 men and women from different ethnicities were keenly observed about their eating patterns for over 30 years. They were free of heart disease & cancer at the beginning of this study. The results of this study showed that those who regularly ate more plant-based foods rich in what are known as lignans had a much lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who did not.
This finding was for both men and women, and also for various types of lignans.
This helped the researchers to understand that as lignan is an estrogen-like molecule, it exerts some estrogenic effects which are cardioprotective effects. It has ant-inflammatory properties too.
Another noticeable factor was that when fiber was added to the diet, the protective association with diets higher in the lignan-rich plant foods was increased.
Participants who had higher lignan intake lived longer, fitter, leaner, and were less likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Flax Seed Benefits for High Blood Pressure
The tendency of these seeds to cause a decrease in hypertension is another major plus factor.
A study found that people who ate 30 grams of flaxseeds daily for a period of six months, experienced a decrease in their systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure lowered by 7 mmHg. For people who were already on blood pressure medication, the fall in blood pressure was even more.
Flax Seeds Contain Dietary Fiber
There are two main types of fiber, one is soluble fiber and other is insoluble fiber. Flax seeds are a good source of both soluble & insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows down your digestion rate & helps to increase the consistency of the various intestinal contents. In addition, it helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber helps to increase the water binding tendency of stools which results in softer stools. So, it acts as a laxative and helps to relieve constipation. It is also helpful for people who have diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. The dietary fiber present in flax seeds leads to regular bowel movements and thus improves digestive health.
Flax Seeds protein content
The flax seeds contain 18% protein & they have high quality protein. They are rich in amino acids arginine, glutamine, valine, leucine, tyrosine & phenylalanine. Out of these valine, leucine & phenylalanine are essential amino acids. Both arginine & glutamine are important for a healthy immune system. It’s a good protein source for those who are vegetarian or vegan.
Various research studies show that protein from flax seeds can improve & strengthen the immune system, prevent tumour development, and lower cholesterol levels.
Flax Seeds‘ benefits for High Cholesterol
Another benefit of flax seeds is their ability to lower cholesterol levels due to their high fiber content. A study suggests that people with high cholesterol who consume flaxseed powder every day for a constant period of three months may experience a 17% decrease in their total cholesterol levels. At the same time, the flax seed diet incorporation may help the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels go down by nearly 20%.
Another study found that it may cause an increase in the “good” HDL cholesterol by 12% by consuming one tablespoon of flaxseed powder every day for one month.
Flax Seeds’ Benefits for Diabetes
These seeds must be a regular addition to the diet of diabetics. They are rich in both soluble & insoluble fiber & can help to lower blood sugar levels. Research shows that flax seeds can slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, bringing down the blood sugar levels.
Another research study involving people with type 2 diabetes showed that those who consumed 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder every day for a month saw about 8-20% reduction in their blood sugar levels.
Flax Seeds are Rich in Vitamin E
Flax seeds are a good source of antioxidant vitamin E. An antioxidant like vitamin E can help to lower blood pressure by increasing sodium excretion. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
It blocks the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. Hence, it protects you from cancer. The vitamin E content of flax seeds also improves skin and hair health.
Other Health Benefits of Flax Seeds
Due to the presence of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, the flax seed possesses anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, lignans help to decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease. This is because lignans help to reduce the levels of glucose and fat in the blood. In addition, the flax seed can also boost your serotonin levels since they contain both tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids. Lack of serotonin is thought to play a role in development of depression, anxiety, mania and other health conditions.
How to Eat Flax Seeds for Maximum Benefits?
When you are eating a food item particularly to reap the rich benefits, then the first principle is to eat it in the least processed manner. The same is true for flax seeds too because in their less processed or unprocessed form, they will have higher amounts of their antioxidant & anti-inflammatory compounds.
As they say it, “You are far better off eating an apple than having apple juice, and you’re far better off eating a banana than making it into a smoothie”.
Another important factor is that you should not eat them in their raw form. They should be dry baked or toasted to remove the toxins.
There are plenty of ways to eat flaxseeds. You may eat them whole or ground. You may also consume them in the form of flaxseed oil however the nutritional profile of seeds & the oil will be different. You can try to incorporate flax seeds into your daily diet by adding them to any of your favorite choice of food, provided you avoid processing.
- Add flaxseeds to yoghurt to make it even more nutritious..
- Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on your breakfast cereal.
- Add ground flax seed to smoothies. It also helps to thicken up the consistency of the smoothie.
- Use these seeds in your baked items, such as cookies, bread, and muffins.
- You can simply add the flax seed powder to drinking water and get weight loss benefits.
- Sprinkle flaxseed, either ground or whole or as oil, on your salad dressing.
These are just some more popular ways of consuming flaxseeds. You may try out any different options according to your flavour.
When to eat Flax Seeds for Maximum Benefits?
One should consume 1-2 tablespoon of flax seeds a day. You can consume flax seeds either in the morning or at night. However, some of their benefits might be more effective at different times & you may opt for either according to your requirements. For example, consuming them in the morning could be a good idea since they are high in fiber and protein. It will also help to boost your metabolism quite well that way. If you consume them at night, you can experience the full effect of the sleep-regulating serotonin hormone. This is due to the presence of tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acid content in the flax seed as tryptophan is the precursor to synthesis of serotonin.
Possible Side Effects of Flax Seeds
People with hormonal imbalance or endometriosis should not consume the flax seed. It is because they can mimic the effects of hormone estrogen on the body. Pregnant women & breastfeeding women should also take flax seeds in moderation or should talk to a doctor before consuming them.
Some people who are prone to gastric issues may experience side effects like bloating, gas, constipation, stomach aches, diarrhea, intestinal obstruction, or allergies.
Flax seeds should not be consumed if you are going for a surgery in near future as flax seeds may reduce your blood-clotting ability.
People who are on a high dose of blood thinners should also be cautious.
Flaxseeds are indeed a super food that have plenty of benefits for your overall health. They can significantly aid in weight loss. In addition, they are nutrient rich & offer plenty of nutritional benefits. As a result, they help to strengthen the immune system and prevent the development of various diseases. The best part about them is that you can consume them in many ways, whole or ground, which makes it easy to follow a flax seed diet consistently.