Flaxseeds are one of the most versatile seeds we have. Today, you see them in oatmeal bowls, acai bowls, smoothies, and other foods, but before this, they were mostly used for creating textiles.
Now that more and more people are becoming more health-conscious and aware of the food they consume, flaxseeds have grown in popularity. This is no surprise because they offer plenty of health benefits. When it comes to the benefits of flaxseeds, weight loss is one of the biggest and one we will discuss in detail.
In this article, we will learn what flaxseeds are, where they come from, the many benefits they offer, how they help in weight loss, if they have any side effects, and the different ways you can eat them.
What is flaxseed?
Flaxseed comes from the flax plant, which is grown in countries all over Asia, Europe, as well as the Mediterranean. These seeds are usually golden yellow to reddish-brown in colour and contain phytoestrogens, which is very similar to estrogen. Flaxseeds also contain oil and soluble fibre.
Today, the flax plant is mostly cultivated for the seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Thanks to this, flaxseeds have become extremely popular in the health food scene in recent years, with experts even naming it as a superfood that should be included in our daily diet.
It is clear to see that flaxseed benefits are numerous, and regular consumption can boost our physical and mental health. In fact, 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, which means “the most useful” in Latin. Flaxseeds are also known as alasi, aliviraaii, common flax, brown-seeded flax and more.
As we have just mentioned, flaxseeds benefits are numerous. These are considered superfoods, meaning that they have plenty of healthy properties, making them essential in our daily diet. Below, we discuss these benefits in detail.
Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that your body needs to function optimally, and flaxseeds are great sources of these. These seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is mostly plant-based. ALA is not produced naturally by your body, so you need to obtain it from external sources like the food you consume.
Studies have found that consumption of ALA is linked to lower risk of heart attacks as well as stroke.
Flaxseeds have plenty of nutrient content
Flax plants are one of the oldest cultivated crops and are of two different types – brown and golden. However, both are equally nutritious. Even just one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains roughly 37 calories, 1.3 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 1.9 grams of fibre, 3 grams of total fat, 0.3 grams of saturated fat, 8 percent of the RDI of vitamin B1, 2 percent of the RDI of vitamin B6, 2 percent of the RDI of folate, 2 percent of the RDI of iron, 2 percent of the RDI of calcium, 7 percent of the RDI of magnesium, and many more nutrients.
Flaxseeds may help lower the risk of cancer
Flaxseeds are very rich in lignans, which are plant compounds that have both estrogen and antioxidant properties. Both of these are known to lower the risk of developing different types of cancer and are also extremely useful in improving overall health. The content of lignans in flaxseeds is up to 8000 times higher compared to other plant foods.
Studies have shown that daily consumption of flaxseeds can result in a lower risk of developing breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancers. For the last two, more research is required.
Flaxseeds may be able to lower blood pressure
Among the many flaxseeds benefits, one is that they can help in lowering blood pressure. A study found that those who ate 30 grams of flaxseeds every day for a period of six months experienced a decrease in their systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg, while their diastolic blood pressure lowered by 7 mmHg. For subjects who were already on blood pressure medication, the decrease in blood pressure was even lower.
Flaxseeds are rich in high-quality protein
Flaxseeds contain plenty of plant-based, high-quality proteins which are rich in glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and amino acids. Various studies have shown that protein from flaxseeds can improve and strengthen the immune system, prevent the development of tumours, lower cholesterol levels and also have antifungal properties.
Flaxseeds may be able to lower cholesterol levels
Flaxseeds benefits include their ability to improve cholesterol. A study conducted on people with high cholesterol found that those who consumed flaxseed powder every day for a period of three months experienced lower cholesterol levels by as much as 17%, while the “bad” LDL cholesterol was decreased by nearly 20%.
Another study found that people with diabetes experienced an increase in the “good” HDL cholesterol by 12% when they took one tablespoon of flaxseed powder every day for one month. This implies that flaxseeds are also great for people with type 2 diabetes.
Flaxseeds can help in weight loss and management
Flaxseeds benefits for weight loss is another advantage of including these super seeds as part of your daily diet. If you want to lose weight, then flaxseeds can be your go-to snack as they can help you keep hunger at bay.
How to eat flaxseeds
There are plenty of ways on how to eat flaxseed. They can be consumed either whole or ground. They can also be taken in the form of flaxseed oil. You can try these if you want to incorporate flax seeds in your daily diet:
- Drizzle flaxseed either ground or whole, or as oil on your salad dressing
- Add flaxseeds to yoghurt
- Drizzle ground flaxseeds on your breakfast cereal or your oatmeal bowl
- Add flaxseeds to smoothies. This 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
- Simply add flaxseeds to drinking water
These are just some popular ways of consuming flaxseeds. You can try out different options on your own as well.
Flaxseeds for weight loss
As we have mentioned before, flaxseeds play an important role in your diet if you want to lose weight and/or manage your weight. This is mostly because of its high fibre content. Fibre helps you feel like you are full, which in turn, results in lower intake of calories on a daily basis.
In other words, flaxseeds help to suppress your appetite by giving you a feeling of fullness easily and quickly. You don’t need to consume lots of food to satiate your hunger. If you tend to snack in between meals and you want to lower your food consumption, then flaxseeds are great for controlling your appetite. If you are wondering how to eat flaxseeds for weight loss, you can incorporate them into your meals, especially for breakfast.
A study found that feelings of hunger, as well as overall appetite, could be reduced simply by adding 2.5 grams of ground flax seeds to beverages. This is because flaxseeds are very rich in soluble fibre, which slows digestion in your stomach, thereby triggering various hormones that control appetite. This then makes you feel like you are full.
Additionally, after reviewing a total of 45 different studies in 2017, researchers concluded that incorporating whole flaxseed in your diet can lead to a reduction in waist circumference, body weight as well as body mass index (BMI).
Side effects of flaxseeds
Although the benefits of flaxseeds are plenty, they may not be for everyone. For instance, people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should stay away from flaxseeds. This is because they can act as laxatives and irritate your colon walls, which may result in inflammation, and in some serious cases, even bleeding.
It is also suggested that those who are experiencing hormonal imbalance or endometriosis should not consume flaxseeds as they can mimic the effects of estrogen on the body.
Flaxseeds are super seeds that have plenty of benefits for your overall health, and can also significantly aid in weight loss. They provide plenty of nutrients to the body, thus, strengthening the immune system and preventing the development of various diseases. The best part is that they can be consumed in a number of ways, whole or ground.
However, it is important to keep in mind that these are not miracle workers. You should ensure a healthy diet and also exercise regularly if you wish to lose weight effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
A: The lignans and omega 3 fatty acids present in flaxseeds help reduce blood pressure, and prevent overeating. In addition to that, it is also good for the skin and has anti-cancer properties too.
A: Yes, we can. However, they have to be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.
A: Flax seeds can be an added advantage in the weight loss process due to the presence of fiber, healthy fat and its satiety property.
A: No, flax seeds cannot help you reduce fat in any specific area of the body. That said, one should also not aim for spot reduction as it can prove to be extremely unhealthy.
A: Raw flax seeds are not poisonous. If one is intolerant to raw flax seeds, they can be roasted at a low temperature, powdered and eaten. Those who have IBS, and other GI problems should check with a physician or a nutritionist before consuming raw flax seeds.