I’m going to do something a little different from the normal blog post today and share some info about a superfood: flaxseeds.
I’ve been wanting to add more flax into my diet due to it’s healthy fat and fiber amounts, but I also wanted to look into it a little more and find some CLINICAL evidence as to why they are supposedly so good for you.
I was happy to stumble upon authoritynutrition.com, a website dedicated to evidence based nutrition. Being in the healthcare field, I really appreciate anything that can be backed up by a clinical study! I went over to their flaxseed page (you can access it here) and here’s the quick down and dirty of what I learned:
A 3 tablespoon serving of flaxseeds contains 6,338 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. You know, the kind that gives you really nice hair, skin, and nails… without the gross fish oil pills! However… it is important to note that while you do get a good hit of Omega 3’s, the body doesn’t convert the fatty acid into EPA or DHA very efficiently, so you may want to make sure to include some oily fish in your diet.
3 tablespoons of flax seeds gives you a whopping 8g of fiber… which is pretty darn good, considering the recommendation is generally 20-25g a day. Fiber is great for balancing blood sugar, but perhaps more famously for helping with, well, elimination. It’s a natural laxative!
I had no idea what lignans were until I started researching flax. Lignans are compounds that protect against certain types of cancers like breast and ovarian cancer according to the Journal of Nutrition and Journal of Clinical Cancer Research. They also are antiviral and antibacterial, and who doesn’t want to avoid a cold?!
Vitamins and minerals
Flaxseeds are a superfood for a reason; they contain a ton of vitamins and minerals. On the powerhouse list is vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium, among others in varying amounts.
While omega-3 fats are known to be good for the heart and brain, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds into the participants’ diets reduced cholesterol.
But, buyer beware…
With all the good things in flax, one must also be aware that with any good thing also comes some bad. In large amounts, the fiber content can cause nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain – especially in those who were not on a high fiber diet previously. Also in large amounts, certain components of flax can cause issues with the thyroid. Finally, flaxseed contains phytic acid, which is known as an “anti-nutrient” because it blocks the absorption of other vitamins and minerals. The most concerning would be iron, especially in those who are anemic. Keep in mind, though, that in moderate amounts, these effects are unlikely.
How to add flaxseed into your diet:
- Add to smoothies – you won’t even notice!
- In oatmeal
- In muffins, breads, and other baked goods. Google “flax seed egg” and use as a replacement for eggs in baked recipes.
- No-bake cookies and treats
- Create crusts and tortillas (that are naturally low carb if that’s your thing)
That’s it for now! As you can see, flax has great benefits. The beauty of it is, if you buy a bag, it doesn’t take much of it to see the benefits, so the bag should last a while! I’m thinking I may do a superfood series of blog posts and look at the evidence behind supposed superfoods to see if it’s worth including in your diet or not…. Let me know what you think!
Until next time!