5 Health Benefits of Flaxseeds —The Small But Mighty Superfood
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1. They’re a good source of protein.
Protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. (In fact, did you know that your hair and nails are mostly protein?) Flaxseeds are a great source of high-quality, plant-based protein. One teaspoon of flaxseeds contains nearly 2 grams of protein, so flaxseeds are a viable protein-packed option for those in search of alternatives to animal protein sources. Adding flaxseed to a salad or smoothie can help boost your protein intake.
2. Flaxseeds contain heart-healthy, polyunsaturated fats.
The good-for-you fats found in flaxseed (aka the almighty omega-3s), may benefit those with heart disease. “Flaxseeds have been associated with several heart health benefits: potentially reducing blood pressure levels, triglyceride levels, bad cholesterol levels, and inflammation in the body, while helping to increase good cholesterol levels,” Sedivy says. “They also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to several health benefits that include brain health and heart health; that may help reduce blood pressure levels and inflammation, and that helps increase good cholesterol levels.”
3. Flaxseeds are fantastic for digestion.
For those who suffer from irregularity, these tiny gems may be a key to relieving constipation. “Flaxseeds contain high amounts of fiber which may help improve digestive health,” says Fresh Thyme Market’s health and lifestyle expert, Meghan Sedivy, RD, LN. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. “Eating a diet rich in fiber helps to increase the size and weight of stool and soften it to help promote and maintain regularity and prevent constipation.”
4. They may help lower cancer risk.
In addition to the important omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed has been shown to prevent the development of cancerous tumors.8 This could be because flax is rich in lignans (a group of bioactive compounds that are chock-full of antioxidant properties) that may protect the body from cancer by slowing the growth of existing tumors. One human clinical study showed that eating a muffin containing 25 grams of flaxseed for 40 days demonstrated the potential to reduce tumor growth in postmenopausal women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
5. Flaxseeds can help reduce skin inflammation.
Not only is flaxseed packed with internal nutritional benefits when eaten regularly, but it also contains massive beauty benefits when applied directly to the skin. Because flaxseeds are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3s, they can help curb inflammation in the skin. Flax fiber has also been shown to have a healing effect on the skin.9 One small study found that women who used flaxseed oil daily led to improved skin elasticity, increased hydration, and a brighter complexion.
How to Eat Flaxseeds
“One of my favorite ways to include flaxseeds is adding them to your favorite breakfast batters like breads, pancakes, or waffles,” Sedivy suggests. “They’re virtually tasteless, and when ground, they won’t change the texture of your batter. This is a simple way to add nutrients to your meal without sacrificing taste or flavor.” And again, you can toss them over salads, veggies, oatmeal, and smoothies. Add them to pestos, hummus, and sauces. Get creative—because the options are really endless.