Flaxseed or linseed have a very interesting composition with lots of benefits that we can use for our advantage by adding it as another ingredient in our daily meals.

A relative arrived saying that the flaxseed is very bad and that I should not consume it, when I asked for her sources she told me that she heard that from a doctor a long time a ago. (plop)

That’s why I have to warn you that you should never trust anyone’s word. You have to corroborate the information by yourself. This is the reason why at the end of my articles I add several sources that you can check out to confirm if what I’m saying is true.

This way the next time when someone asks you “why flaxseed is good?” you will not reply saying “because Lenus says it” but you will be able to quote the nutritional components, how they function in our body, and the research behind those claims.

Now, let’s see why flaxseeds follows the nutritional law that says “all natural foods are good for our body.” That is, let’s see why flaxseed is food, why it is natural, and why it is good for our body.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is also known as linseed and it’s grown around the world to be used both as seed and as oil.

This seed belongs to the family «lineaceae» and its plant produces seeds of different varieties where some are yellow and other are dark reddish. Both have a crispy texture and even a nut taste.

Although flaxseed and linseed are the same, it is usually called flaxseed when it is for human consumption and it’s called linseed when it’s used for industrial applications.

More than 50 countries produce flaxseeds and Canada is the largest producer/exporter of flaxseeds.

When we study the nutritional content we find mainly three very useful components that are ALA, protein and fiber.

If you don’t know what ALA is, it’s an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid and it’s very useful for its anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, and anti-arrhythmic properties.

Since flaxseed contains Omega 3 fatty acids, it’s an excellent choice for those who do not consume fish. Although, I must clarify that it does not replace fish as a whole but it’s helpful in case you don’t consume fish.

We know that flaxseeds contain a significant amount of phenolic components and these components are know for their anti-cancer and anti-oxidative properties at the cellular level. Among its variety of phenolic components there are phenolic acids, flavonoids and lignans.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) serves as an exclusive source of Omega 3 which, as I mentioned before, it’s useful for a plant-based diet.

Flaxseed oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids that are 73% of total fatty acid, 18% is monounsaturated fat and 9% saturated fat. It’s also rich in both ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and LA (linolenic acid).

I want to clarify that the fatty acids are called essential because our body needs them but cannot synthesize them by itself so it needs to obtain them through our diet.

ALA also serves as a precursor to other polyunsaturated fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Although there is still a debate about this because some claim that the derived EPA and DHA are not enough to consume plant-derived ALA.

Personally I do consider that it is significant and sufficient when you get it through a variety of sources and not just flaxseed. There’s is a study related to this topic and it’s about [longevity and food] so I recommend you to check it out.

The anti-carcinogenic activity that lignans have is attributed to their ability to eliminate hydroxyl free radicals and since flaxseed has a good amount of lignans it’s said that flaxseeds have anti-carcinogenic properties.

When we talk about fiber, flaxseeds contain 35-45% fiber. Of which two thirds is insoluble fiber and one third is soluble fiber. The fiber reaches the large intestine and it’s fermented with the intestinal flora producing short chain fatty acids (SCFA), hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and biomass.

Those fiber derivatives helps to improve general digestion. Actually, the soluble fiber in flaxseed bind with water at the time of digestion which is useful in cases of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.

How to use flaxseed?

As with chia seeds when you combine flaxseeds with water you get a substance similar to the egg white and that’s why it is used as a substitute for the egg when cooking.

Flaxseeds usually have an long shelf-life as long as you have them in a place with cool temperature. The milled flaxseed can last for about 4 months without deterioration of its quality.

Flaxseed oil should not be used to cook because heat often changes its nutritional composition.

Every once in a while you can soak a teaspoon of flaxseed in a glass of water (overnight) to drink in the morning which helps digestion due to its fiber content. So, it’s a great way to start your day.

Flaxseed benefits

If you want to know what flaxseed is good for then you should study its components that I have mentioned. Some of those benefits that you will find are anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, and anti-arrhythmic properties. In addition, as an antioxidant it also provides anti-cancer benefits.

We have also seen some of the benefits of flaxseed related to digestion as for constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.

I don’t want this message to be misunderstood because my intention is not to start consuming only flaxseed as if it were a medicine, because flaxseed is just one of many foods rich in nutrients and properties.

What I recommend you is that if you can get flaxseeds then add them into your meals as any other ingredient. Don’t get obsessed with it.

If you want to know more about flaxseeds then follow me on social media as @lenusme or subscribe to my newsletter by [clicking here].

Finally, don’t forget to stay healthy and to subscribe.

See you on the next post. Tschüss!

Sources

  • Flaxseed—a potential functional food source | J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Apr; 52(4): 1857–1871 | [Link]
  • Highlights on functional foods, with special reference to flaxseed | Al-Okbi SY | J Nat Fibers. 2005;2(3):63–68
  • Alpha-linolenic acid and its conversion to longer chain n-3 fatty acids: benefits for human health and a role in maintaining tissue n-3 fatty acid levels | Prog Lipid Res. 2009 Nov;48(6):355-74. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2009.07.002. Epub 2009 Jul 18 | [Link]
  • Occurrence and activity of human intestinal bacteria involved in the conversion of dietary lignans | Anaerobe. 2006 Jun;12(3):140-7. Epub 2005 Dec 15 | [Link]
  • High alpha-linolenic acid flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum): some nutritional properties in humans. | Br J Nutr. 1993 Mar;69(2):443-53 | [Link]
  • Nutritional attributes of traditional flaxseed in healthy young adults | Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jan;61(1):62-8 | [Link]
  • Dietary fiber and subsequent changes in body weight and waist circumference in European men and women | Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;91(2):329-36. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28191. Epub 2009 Dec 16 | [Link]
  • Effect of processing and storage on the stability of flaxseed lignan added to bakery products | J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Jan 11;54(1):48-53 | [Link]
  • Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depend on food type | Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Feb 3;9:8. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-8 | [Link]
  • Flaxseed: a potential source of food, feed and fiber | Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Mar;51(3):210-22. doi: 10.1080/10408390903537241 | [Link]