A serving of flax seeds provides impressive amounts of good for you nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and iron. Evidence-based benefits of flax seeds include improved digestion and reduced cancer risk.
Flax seeds are little edible seeds produced by the flax plant in North America. These seeds are packed with nutrients like heart-healthy fats, fibre, plant protein, and important vitamins and minerals, in addition to adding a nutty flavour to recipes. Here’s more on the possible health advantages of flax seeds, as well as easy ways to include them into meals and snacks.
Flax seeds have been increasingly popular in recent years as a result of their numerous health benefits. Flax seeds have been discovered so far:
May improve cardiovascular health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States (CDC). Flax seeds can help protect your heart in a number of ways, the most important of which is by lowering risk factors for heart disease, such as:
- Blood pressure reduction. Flax seeds were found to lower blood pressure in a 2016 review of 15 trials published in Clinical Nutrition, especially when consumed for 12 weeks or longer.
- The reduction of cholesterol levels. In a 2014 study published in Biomedical Journal, 50 adults with high cholesterol who consumed around three tablespoons of roasted flax seed powder daily for three months experienced significant reductions in total and LDL (called “bad”) cholesterol levels when compared to a placebo group. They also saw an increase in HDL cholesterol (commonly known as “excellent”) levels.
- Keeping strokes at bay. Flax seeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of healthful fat that may help prevent stroke, according to a 2015 review.
Support digestive health
Flax seeds provide 27 percent of the daily required fibre consumption, which is an important ingredient for digestive health. Fiber aids digestion in the following ways, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Regulating bowel movements is a difficult task.
- lowering the chances of haemorrhoids
- Taking steps to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer
Furthermore, flax seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which benefits bowel movements in somewhat different ways:
- Soluble fibre softens stool, making it easier to transit through the digestive tract.
- Insoluble fibre bulks up your stool, allowing waste to pass through your gut more quickly and alleviating constipation.
Help reduce cancer risk
Although no one meal or supplement can prevent cancer, some research suggests that flax seeds may lower the risk of certain cancers or slow their spread.
Flax seeds, for example, have a high fibre content that may reduce the risk of colon cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, every additional 10 grammes of fibre intake reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 7%.
Breast cancer is the malignancy that has been examined the most in relation to flax seed ingestion. Researchers determined in a 2014 review published in Integrative Cancer Therapies that eating flax seeds may:
- Defend against the onset of breast cancer.
- Reduce the growth of tumours in breast cancer patients.
- Reduce the risk of death in breast cancer patients.
Might improve blood sugar
Flax seeds contain ALA, a type of good fat that may aid in the management of pre-diabetes. This is because ALAs appear to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity.
For 12 weeks, 41 patients with obesity and pre-diabetes were given either 13 grammes, 26 grammes, or 0 grammes of flax seed, according to a 2013 study published in Nutrition Research. It was shown that those who consumed 13 grammes of flax seeds per day—roughly two tablespoons—had the most substantial reductions in blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
Support weight management
Flax seeds, which are high in soluble fibre, may aid in healthy, long-term weight management. Mucilage makes up the majority of the soluble fibre in flaxseeds, and when mixed with water, it forms a gel-like consistency. This delays the passage of food through your stomach, allowing you to feel fuller for longer.
A meta-analysis published in Obesity Reviews in 2017 looked at 45 trials and concluded that eating whole flax seeds was linked to significant weight and waist reductions. According to the National Institutes of Health, having a waist measurement of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for males is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (NIH).
In addition, ingesting 30 grammes (three tablespoons) of whole flax seeds daily for more than 12 weeks improved body composition in patients with a higher BMI, according to the study. The percentage of fat, muscle, and other tissues in our bodies, such as bone, is determined by body composition.
Help protect against chronic disease
According to a 2013 analysis published in the Journal of Oleo Science, flax seeds are high in health-protective antioxidants called polyphenols, in addition to their beneficial lipids and fibre.
Polyphenols work as bodyguards for our cells, guarding them against damage that can contribute to ageing and chronic disorders like heart disease.
Flax seeds are small, yet they’re packed with nutrients. According to the USDA, a quarter cup of whole flax seeds (approximately four tablespoons) provides:
- 224 calories
- 17.5g fat
- 1.5 g saturated fat
- 16g of unsaturated fat
- 12.6 mg sodium
- 12g Carbohydrates
- 11.5 grammes of fibre, or 41% of the recommended value (DV)
- Sugars added: 0g
- 7.7 g protein
- 0.69 mg (57 percent DV) thiamin
- Magnesium: 165 mg, or 39% of the daily value
- Selenium: 7.12mcg, or 19% of the daily value
- 2.4 mg (13 percent DV) iron
Flax seeds are high in thiamin, a B vitamin that aids in the conversion of nutrients into energy. Magnesium, which is crucial for nerve, muscle, and immunological function, is another notable flax seed component. Meanwhile, selenium protects cells from damage and infection, while iron aids in the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body.
Some people may be allergic to flax seeds, despite the fact that this is a rare occurrence. Flax seeds also contain tiny levels of cyanide, a possible poison. However, according to a 2019 research summary published in Nutrients, flax ingestion is unlikely to induce cyanide toxicity because levels are extremely low, and the body can detoxify cyanide in concentrations as minuscule as those found in flax seeds. Cooking flax seeds also eliminates the chemical.
Tips for consuming flax seeds
Ground flax seeds are preferable than whole flax seeds while shopping for flax seeds since whole seeds can pass through your intestines undigested. This inhibits the absorption of nutrients into the circulation.
If whole flax seeds are your only option, don’t worry; you can grind them yourself immediately before eating with a coffee grinder.
Just keep your flax seeds in a cool, dark place—like the freezer—because light and air cause the oil in flax to break down.
Flax seeds can be eaten in a variety of ways, including:
- Oatmeal or overnight oats with a pinch of salt
- Incorporated into yoghurt
- Added to batter for pancakes
- Added to smoothies, fresh fruit, and avocado toast as a garnish.
- To make energy balls, mix oats and nut butter together.
- Cookies, muffins, brownies, and banana bread have all been made using it.
Flax seeds can also be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking recipes. For each egg in the recipe, combine one tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of water.
Flax seeds, despite their small size, deliver a nutritional punch thanks to their potential to lower blood pressure, aid digestion, and prevent some cancers. They’re also extremely adaptable, as they can be used in sweet, savoury, hot, or cold meals. The amount and frequency with which you ingest flax seeds should be determined by your specific tastes and health demands. Consult your doctor or a dietitian for personalised advice.
Learn more: Health Benefits of Fenugreek