Flax seeds are one of the most versatile seeds. Today, you see them in oatmeal bowls, acai bowls, smoothies, and other foods. However, many years ago, people mostly used them for creating textiles. Now that more and more people are becoming increasingly health-conscious and aware of the food they consume, flax seeds have grown in popularity.
It is no surprise as they offer plenty of health benefits. When we look at the benefits of flaxseeds, weight loss is one of the most significant benefits. However, there are many other benefits that we will discuss in detail.
This article explains what flax seeds are, where they come from, the many benefits they offer, how they help in weight loss, any side effects and the different ways you can eat them.
What are Flax Seeds?
Flaxseed comes from the flax plant that grows in countries all over Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. These seeds are usually golden yellow to reddish-brown and contain phytoestrogen, which is very similar to estrogen. Flaxseeds also have oil and soluble fibre.
Today, the flax plant is cultivated mainly for its seeds, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Thanks to this, flaxseeds have become extremely popular as a health food in recent years. Experts even call it a superfood and advise including them in our daily diet.
Flaxseed benefits are numerous. Regular consumption can boost our physical and mental health. These seeds have become so popular that they have even been added to pet foods.
Considering all this, it’s no wonder that the flax plant itself is referred to as Linum usitatissimum, meaning “the most useful” in Latin. Flax seeds are also known as Alasi, Aliviraaii, common flax, brown-seeded flax etc.
Flax Seeds – Nutritional Properties
Flax plants are one of the oldest cultivated crops and are of two different types – brown and golden. However, both are equally nutritious.
Ground flax seeds (one tablespoon) contains:
- Protein – 1.3g
- Carbohydrates – 2g
- Fibre – 1.9g
- Total fat – 3g
- Sodium – 2.1mg
- Potassium – 56.9mg
- Iron – 2% of the RDI
- Calcium – 1% of the RDI
- Magnesium – 6% of the RDI
- Calories – 37
Proven Health Benefits of Flax Seeds
Flax seeds have several benefits. Their nutritional properties make them essential in our daily diet. Below, we discuss these benefits in detail:
Flax Seeds for Weight Loss
Flax seeds play an essential role in your diet if you want to lose or manage your weight. That is primarily because of its high fibre content. Fibre helps you feel full, which results in a lower intake of calories daily. In other words, flax seeds help to suppress your appetite by making you feel full. As a result, you don’t end up binge eating to satiate your hunger.
Flax seeds can be a great addition to your diet if you feel the urge to snack in between meals or lower your food consumption. In addition, flax seeds can also cut down on your appetite. If you wonder how to use flax seeds for weight loss, you can incorporate them into your meals, especially for breakfast.
A study suggests that you could reduce hunger and overall appetite by adding 2.5 grams of ground flax seeds to your beverages. Since flax seeds are very rich in soluble fibre, it slows 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 whole flaxseed into your diet can lead to a reduction in waist circumference, body weight and body mass index (BMI).
Flax Seeds are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that your body needs to function optimally. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds consists of around 1.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, these seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is primarily plant-based.
Our bodies do not produce ALA naturally. So we need to obtain it from external sources like the food we eat. A study links the consumption of ALA to a lower risk of heart attacks. In addition, it suggests that alpha-Linolenic acid is a viable cardioprotective alternative to fatty acids. Another study links ALA to a decreased risk of stroke. It’s also helpful in the prevention of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis.
Flax Seeds May Help Lower the Risk of Cancer
Flaxseeds are very rich in lignans, which are plant compounds having estrogen and antioxidant properties. These compounds are known to lower the risk of developing different types of cancer and are extremely useful in improving overall health. The content of lignans in flax seeds is up to 800 times higher than other plant foods.
An observational study suggests that flax seeds can lower the risk of breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women. It can also reduce the growth of tumours in patients with breast cancer. Studies also prove that daily consumption of flax seeds can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancers.
Flax Seeds May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Among the many benefits of flax seeds, a significant advantage is that they can help in lowering blood pressure. So, they’re most helpful to people with high blood pressure.
A study shows that people who ate 30 grams of flaxseeds every day for six months experienced a decrease in their systolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg. During this time, their diastolic blood pressure lowered by 7 mm Hg. For subjects who were already on blood pressure medication, the decrease in blood pressure was even more.
Flax Seeds Contain Dietary Fibre
There are two main types of fibre – soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre slows your digestion rate down. It also increases the consistency of the various intestinal contents. In addition, it helps regulate blood sugar and lower your cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fibre lets more water bind to the stools, which results in softer stools. Thus, it acts as a laxative and helps relieve constipation. In addition, it is helpful for people who have diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome. Overall, the dietary fibre present in flax seeds leads to regular bowel movements and improves digestive health.
Flax Seeds Are Rich In High-Quality Protein
Flax seeds contain plenty of plant-based, high-quality proteins rich in glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and amino acids. It’s a good source of protein for those who are vegetarian or vegan.
Various studies show that protein from flax seeds can improve and strengthen the immune system, prevent tumour development, and lower cholesterol levels. In addition, flax seeds also have antifungal properties.
Flax Seeds May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
The benefits of flax seeds include their ability to lower cholesterol levels. It is due to their high fibre content. A study suggests that people with high cholesterol who consume flaxseed powder every day for three months may experience a 17% decrease in their cholesterol levels. At the same time, the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels may go down by nearly 20%.
Another study found that people with diabetes experienced an increase in the “good” HDL cholesterol by 12% by consuming one tablespoon of flaxseed powder every day for one month. So, it implies that flaxseeds are also great for people with type 2 diabetes.
Flax Seeds May Lower the Risk of Diabetes
Flax seeds should be the next addition to the diet of those having diabetes. It is due to the fibre present in flax seeds, which may help lower blood sugar levels. Research shows that flax seeds can slow down the release of sugar into the blood with insoluble fibre. As a result, it may help reduce blood sugar levels.
Another research study on people with type 2 diabetes showed that those who consumed 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder every day for a month saw an 8-20% reduction in their blood sugar levels.
Flax Seeds are rich in Vitamin E.
Among the many nutrients and minerals present in flax seeds, you cannot ignore vitamin E. An antioxidant like vitamin E can help lower blood pressure. In addition, it can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. It does this by encouraging sodium excretion in the urine.
Flaxseed also blocks the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. As a result, it protects you from cancer. In addition, it also improves skin and hair health.
Other Health Benefits
Due to the presence of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds also contain anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, lignans help decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease. That is because they reduce the levels of glucose and fat in the blood. In addition, flax seeds can also boost your serotonin levels since they contain both tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids.
Ways to Eat Flax Seeds
There are plenty of ways to eat flaxseed. You can eat them either whole or ground. You can also consume them in the form of flaxseed oil. In addition, you can try many other ways to incorporate flax seeds into your daily diet:
- Drizzle flaxseed, either ground or whole or as oil, on your salad dressing.
- Add flaxseeds to yoghurt to reap the benefits.
- Drizzle ground flaxseeds on your breakfast cereal or your oatmeal bowl.
- Add flaxseeds to smoothies. It also thickens up the consistency of the smoothie.
- Use flaxseeds in your baked goods, such as cookies, bread, and muffins.
- Add flaxseeds to your meat dishes such as chicken, beef and fish.
- You can simply add flaxseeds to drinking water and get weight loss benefits.
These are just some popular ways of consuming flaxseeds. You can try out different options on your own as well.
The Best Time and Appropriate Quantities to Consume
The appropriate quantity of flax seeds one should consume is 1-2 tablespoons a day. You can consume flax seeds both in the morning and at night. However, some of their benefits might be more effective at different times. For example, consuming them in the morning is a good idea since it’s high in fibre and protein. It will also boost your metabolism quite well that way. Whereas, if you consume it at night, you experience the full effect of the sleep-regulating serotonin substance. That is due to the high levels of tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acid content in flax seeds.
Possible Side Effects of Flax Seeds
Although flax seeds have many benefits, they may not be for everyone. For example, those experiencing hormonal imbalance or endometriosis should not consume flax seeds. It is because they can mimic the effects of estrogen on the body. Pregnant women should also avoid flax seeds during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
People may also experience side effects like bloating, gas, constipation, stomach aches, diarrhoea, intestinal obstruction, or allergies. In addition, since flax seeds may reduce your blood-clotting ability, it’s best to keep them out of your diet if you’re going to have surgery.
Flaxseeds are super seeds that have plenty of benefits for your overall health. They can also significantly aid in weight loss. In addition, they provide plenty of nutrients to the body. As a result, they strengthen the immune system and prevent the development of various diseases. The best part is that you can consume them in many ways, whole or ground.
However, it is essential to keep in mind that flax seeds are not miracle workers. You should follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly if you wish to lose weight effectively. Another thing to remember is that moderation is vital. So, stick to the recommended quantity of flax seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Q. What are the benefits of flax seeds?
A: The lignans and omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds help reduce blood pressure and prevent overeating. In addition to that, it is good for the skin and hair and has anti-cancer properties. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps you sleep better.
Q. Can we eat raw flax seeds?
A: No, you should not eat raw flax seeds. You can eat them whole or crushed. It is because raw or unripe flaxseeds may contain toxic properties. So, it’s best to avoid it.
Q. Are flax seeds good for weight loss?
A: Flax seeds can be an added advantage in the weight loss process due to fibre, healthy fat and its satiety property.
Q. Does flax seeds help you lose belly fat?
A: No, flax seeds cannot help you reduce fat in any specific area of the body. That said, you should also not aim for spot reduction as it is unhealthy.
Q. What happens if I eat flax seeds every day?
A: If you eat flax seeds every day, you will notice lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, weight loss, and so on.
Q. How much flaxseed should you eat a day?
A: 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day is a healthy amount.
Q. When should I eat flaxseed: morning or night?
A: You can consume flax seeds both in the morning and at night. It ultimately depends on your personal preference.
Q. Is flaxseed good for females?
A: Yes, flaxseed is suitable for women. However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, then you might want to avoid including flax seeds in your diet. Additionally, if you have a hormonal imbalance of some sort or endometriosis, then you may also want to steer clear of flax seeds. That is because they can mimic the effects of estrogen on the body.
Q. Does flaxseed cause weight gain?
A: No, flax seeds don’t cause weight gain. It’s the exact opposite as it helps with weight loss.
Q. Does flaxseed have side effects?
A: Yes, flax seeds do have a few side effects. They include bloating, gas, constipation, stomach aches, diarrhoea, intestinal obstruction, or allergies. However, not everyone will experience these side effects.
Q. How much flaxseed should I take a day to lose weight?
A: 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day will help you healthily lose weight.
Q. Is flaxseed bad for kidneys?
A: There is no conclusive evidence regarding its effect on the kidneys. However, if consumed in moderation, you can still reap the various benefits of flax seeds mentioned in this article.