Flax Seeds : Nutritional Facts, Health Benefits & Usage

Flax also known as common flax or linseed is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler parts of the world. Flax is grown for its seeds which are used as a nutritional supplement. Though tiny, Flax seeds are rich in the omega 3 fatty acid, lignans and fiber all of which have been shown to have multiple health benefits. They can be used in a number of ways for a number of purpose. Flax seeds are low in starch and sugar, hence they are not high on calories.

Nutritional value

Tbsp of Flax seeds have the following nutritional value :

  • Calories : 37
  • Protein : 1.5 grams
  • Carbs : 2 grams
  • Fiber : 1.9 grams
  • Total Fat : 2.8 grams
  • Omega 3 : 1.6 grams

Apart from this, Flax also contains the following ingredients :

  • Vitamin B1 / Thiamine (good for brain, digestion, energy and anti-aging)
  • Vitamin B6 (good for heart, kidney, metabolism, immunity and hormonal balance)
  • Vitamin B9 / Folate (good for heart, skin, muscles, reduction of stress and anxiety)
  • Manganese (good for bones, metabolism, digestion, thyroids and periods)
  • Magnesium (good for sleep, immunity, bones, energy, reduction of stress and constipation)
  • Phosphorous, Copper, Selenium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium and Zinc

Benefits of Flax Seeds in weight loss

Because of the composition, Flax Seeds are extremely beneficial in weight loss.

  1. Loaded with antioxidants : specially the type called lignans which are unique fibre related polyphenols.
  2. Flax Seeds are low in calories because of being low in starch and sugar.
  3. Flax Seeds are high in soluble fibre which is good for digestive health and keeps you satisfied for longer,
  4. Improved metabolism of carbs, protein and fat.
  5. Rich in the amino acids arginie, aspartic acid and glutamic acid.

Omega 3

Flax seeds are extremely popular because of the high presence of Omega 3 fatty acids. Flax Seeds are the richest source of plant based Omega 3 fatty acids called alpha – linolenic acid. In the normal diet, there is huge imbalance of Omega 3 and 6. Flax Seeds address that issue to a large extent. It also reduces inflammation.

Certain other benefits of Omega 3 found in Flax Seeds are :

  • Address hormonal imbalance
  • Promote good sleep
  • Keeps bones healthy
  • Improves eye sight
  • Keeps the heart healthy

Hormonal Imbalance

Flax Seeds are known to address the problem of hormonal imbalance to a large extent

  • Flax Seeds are the number one source of lignans
  • Lignans are considered natural phytoestrogens or plant nutrients that work some what similarly to the hormone estrogen (also called estrogen)
  • Flax has both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties. It thus helps women in balancing hormones
  • Lignans found in Flax Seeds have been shown to have many benefits for menopausal women.
  • Flax also helps in maintaining cycle regularity
  • Apart from this, lignans are also known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties thus may help reduce the number or severity of cold and a number of flu.

Health Benefits

Flax Seeds apart from the aspects discussed above have a number of other health benefits. These include :

  • Weight Loss
  • Improved digestion
  • Good hair, skin and nails
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Bone health
  • Controlled blood sugar
  • Reduced sugar cravings
  • May help fight cancer
  • Good for brain

Flax Seeds have a nutty flavour and are warm in nature. They are generally of two types :

The Yellow Flax Seeds and the Brown Flax Seeds. In India, mostly dark brown Flax Seeds are found. Since the shelf of Flax Seeds like all other nuts isn’t much, it is recommended to be bought only in small quantity.

How to consume Flax Seeds

There are two ways to consume the Flax Seeds. These are grounded and sprouted. Flax Seeds are extremely versatile and can be added in roti, smoothies, salads, dahi, oatmeals, homemade protein powder, ladoo, protein bars, chille, nut butter, chutney, baking and crackers. Flax Seeds should be dry roasted on low heat till they start to crackle prior to use.

How much to take and the best time to use

Start with 1 tsp (5 grams) and gradually increase to 1 tbsp (15 grams). Maximum safe quantity to take is upto 2 tbsp. Consumption should ideally be reduced to half in summers. Flax Seeds can be taken early morning in breakfast which helps in hormonal balance and weight loss or before bed time where it helps in sound sleep and addressing anxiety.

Who should avoid

Although in small quantity Flax Seeds are considered safe for use, the following should avoid taking Flax Seeds because of its warm nature.

  • Pregnant women
  • People on blood thinning medication
  • Women on birth control pills
  • Women trying to conceive
  • Very young girls
  • People on any special supplements
  • People with allergies

Its recommended to consult with the physician or doctor for any health conditions prior to using Flax Seeds.

Side Effects

Flax Seeds are quite warm in nature. It is recommended to have sufficient quantity of water to get full benefits.

  • Large doses with less fluids can obstruct intestines and / or the esophagus
  • Excessive use of Flax Seeds can cause abdominal discomfort
  • Use in large amount can also potentially cause hormonal changes

Flax Seeds definitely are a super food with innumerable qualities and benefits. However, its use should be in small quantities to start with and always in consultation with a physician.

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