Flaxseed is proof that good things come in small packages. Picture a seed so powerful that a couple tablespoons a day could help lower cholesterol, promote healthy skin, and ward off sugar cravings. How? The small seed is a great source of fiber, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, which provide us with antioxidants (more on this below). Did we mention flaxseeds are gluten-free and adding flaxseeds to your diet is as easy as sprinkling the seeds onto your favorite soup recipe or blending it into a daily smoothie or juice? Of course, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Because the seeds are rich in fiber, we’ve included a couple of tips to be mindful of when consuming.
Want to know more about the benefits of flaxseeds? Keep reading. Ahead nutritionist and registered dietitian Dara Godfrey shares the benefits of flaxseed, the various types, and how to add them to your diet.
HIGH IN FIBER
“Consuming fiber can help improve blood sugar levels and therefore be helpful in managing diabetes, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and thyroid disease,” Godfrey tells Byrdie. Read: Adding flaxseeds to your diet can help curb sugar cravings. Sign. Us. Up. What’s more is that Godfrey explains that flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which keep you full and regular.
HELP LOWER BAD CHOLESTEROL
Flaxseeds contain a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) explains Godfrey. The benefits of ALA include lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL). “One tablespoon of flaxseeds contains 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s,” she shares.
HELP PROMOTE HEALTHY SKIN
“Essential fatty acids are my holy grail, and flaxseeds are a great source of omega-3,” echoes Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare. “Omegas are the building blocks of healthy skin because they help maintain the skin’s natural barrier by locking in moisture. They also act as powerful anti-inflammatories and calm the digestive tract, making them particularly effective in treating conditions like eczema and acne.”
HELP PROMOTE HORMONAL BALANCE
Flaxseeds are a great source of Lignans Godfrey shares with Byrdie. What are lignans you ask? “Lignans are fiber-like compounds that provide us with antioxidants that may also support the immune system and can balance our body’s hormones,” explains Godfrey. “They are found in plant sources, and flaxseeds contain the highest amounts of lignan.”
Types of Flaxseed
FRESHLY GROUND VS. WHOLE SEED
For optimal Lignin absorption and to ease digestion, Godfrey suggests freshly grinding whole flaxseeds.
Godfrey explains that whole seeds cannot be absorbed by the body. “Therefore, you won’t get all the benefits,” she says, “but whole seeds can increase bowel movements from the insoluble fiber.”
GOLDEN FLAXSEED OR BROWN FLAXSEED?
“All colors of flaxseeds are great and have similar nutrition content,” Godfrey tells us.
HOW TO USE IT
Godfrey suggests adding flaxseeds to your oatmeal, yogurt, and baked goods. “I put them in and on top of my homemade banana bread, and even in savory dishes like soup,” she shares. To extend freshness, Godfrey stores flaxseed in the fridge.
TAKE WITH LOTS OF WATER
“Since they are high in fiber, make sure they are taken with lots of water,” shares Godfrey.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU CONSUME?
Godfrey recommends consuming two to three tablespoons of flaxseeds daily. “Any more may give you an upset stomach,” she warns.