The Many Health Benefits of Flaxseed and How to Use It
What is Flaxseed?
Flaxseed, also called linseed, is an annual crop that grows in cooler regions of North America. The flax plant is grown for both its seeds and its linen fiber. Its flowers blossom into a pretty light blue color and the tiny seeds are extracted and consumed.
Flaxseed has been consumed for centuries. In the 8th Century, King Charlemagne of France, even passed laws requiring his people to consume it because he believed so strongly in its health benefits. We now have research to support these benefits.
When consuming flaxseeds whole you benefit from the high fiber content, but in order to absorb the omega-3s, antioxidants, and other nutrients, flaxseed must be consumed in the ground form.
Who Should Consume Flaxseed?
Consuming flaxseed is beneficial for numerous dietary and health related needs. It may be beneficial for those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, constipation, vegans, gluten or egg allergies, and more. Below are a few aspects of your health that flaxseed may benefit.
While research specifically connecting flaxseed to gut health is somewhat limited, we do know that flaxseed is a good source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which is great for digestion (learn more about fiber here).
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools and allows foods to move through your GI tract. Insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and becomes a gel-like substance. It can help remove cholesterol from the body and it does not contribute to spikes in blood sugar.
If your diet is not currently high in fiber, add it in slowly to start (about 1 Tbsp per day) to allow your body to adjust. Too much at once may cause some discomfort if your body is not accustomed to it.
Flaxseed contains a component called lignans which provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which can be beneficial for your heart health.
The soluble fiber in flaxseed can also help to lower total and LDL cholesterol.
Flaxseed may also help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. A meta-analysis reviewing 15 studies, including over 1,300 participants, showed that the consumption of flaxseed reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Flaxseed is also a good source of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids. ALA is the only essential form of Omega-3s. About 15% of ALA is converted into DHA and EPA Omega-3s, which have protective effects for our long term health. Learn more about Omega-3s here.
The lignans in flaxseed act as both an antioxidant and a phytoestrogen. These properties protect the body from cellular damage and may be a good addition to a cancer a patient’s diet. You can read more here.
Because ground flax can be made into an egg like substance, it also makes a great egg alternative for vegans and those who can’t eat eggs. Flax also works very well in gluten-free baking. Additionally, flax has also been shown to aid in blood sugar management.
How Much Flaxseed Do You Need to Consume?
Experts recommend consuming two to four tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day. If you do not typically consume large amounts of fiber, start with one tablespoon per day and gradually increase the amount.
How Do You Use Flaxseed?
Manitoba Smooth Whole-Milled Flaxseed can easily be added to just about anything. Below are a few suggestions to easily add more flax to your diet.