Flaxseeds have become popular as a health food in recent years, thanks to their health benefits, leaving many to label them as a superfood.
They are small but mighty! But what are they? What benefits do they bring? And how can you incorporate them into your diet?
What is flaxseed?
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are small oil seeds which come from the flax plant.
They originated thousands of years ago in the Middle East, making them one of the oldest crops in the world.
They are usually brown or golden/yellow in colour and are sold whole, ground, milled or roasted.1
There is no difference in nutritional value between the different colours.2
How to eat flaxseed
Flaxseeds can be easily added into your diet.
Simply add a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed to your dinner, grind to top a salad or add to your breakfast smoothie.
Flaxseeds have a mild, nutty flavour and are therefore ideal for adding to both sweet and savoury dishes.3
Nutritionists recommend that the best way of eating flaxseeds is ground or milled, as when they are eaten whole, they might not be digested properly and so you will not get all their nutritional benefits.4
You can also buy flaxseed oil, which can be used as a salad dressing or a dipping sauce.
Health benefits of falafel
So flaxseed is easy to eat, but is flaxseed good for you? Here we take a look at some of the health benefits of flaxseed.
Flaxseed is rich in nutrients
Just one tablespoon of flaxseed provides 1.3g of protein and 1.9g of fibre, around 1.8g of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
As well as this, they are rich in B vitamins, magnesium and phosphorus.
Flaxseed is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids
Flaxseed provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is a fatty acid that your body does not produce and so we must get from our diets.
ALA has many benefits including preventing cholesterol deposits as well as heart health benefits.5
This is particularly beneficial to anyone following a vegan diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are mostly found in fish and so it can be difficult for vegans to consume a healthy amount of these.
Flaxseed is rich in fibre
Flaxseed contain both the soluble and insoluble types of fibre.6
Eating plenty of fibre in our diets can help support a healthy digestive system and help prevent constipation and other digestive issues.
It also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, stopping you from reaching for the unhealthy snack cupboard.7
Flaxseed may help to reduce cholesterol
Flaxseed contains phytosterols, which help to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.
This may help to reduce levels or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the body. This is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. 8
Flaxseeds are rich in plant-based protein
As we mentioned earlier, flaxseeds contain 1.3g of protein for each tablespoon of them.
Protein helps with maintenance and growth of muscles, maintenance and repair in the body and so it is important that you get enough of this in your diet, especially if you live an active lifestyle.
Again, flaxseed is a good source of plant-based protein for anyone following a vegan diet who might otherwise find it difficult to get their required amount of protein, since protein is mostly found in meat, fish and dairy products.
Flaxseeds contain antioxidants
Flaxseed is a good source of antioxidants called polyphenols. These help to protect the body against cell damaging oxidative stress.9
Flaxseeds can help with weight management
Thanks to both their high fibre and high protein content, flaxseed could help when it comes to weight management, as part of a calorie controlled diet.
Both of these are nutrients that keep you feeling fuller for longer and so help reduce the urge to snack, overeating or making unhealthy choices when it comes to mealtimes.
Flaxseed contains lignans
Flaxseed has the highest source of lignans in the plant world and it contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plants.
Lignans have oestrogen and antioxidant qualities, which can help hormonal balance, especially in menopausal and postmenopausal women.10
Flaxseed hydrates the skin
One of the flaxseed oil benefits is that it is good for the skin.
Thanks to its fatty acids, flaxseed can help to keep skin hydrated and for this reason, many beauty products contain flaxseed oil in their ingredients.
You can even apply flaxseed oil topically to the skin, which will allow the skin to absorb the fatty acids.
Keeping your skin hydrated helps to keep it looking plump and supple, as well as helping to reduce the appearance of ageing, fine lines and wrinkles.11
Last updated: 9 April 2021