The health-boosting powers of flaxseed

The health-boosting powers of flaxseed

From heart health and diabetes management to digestive health and more, flaxseed packs a powerful nutritional punch. It’s even classified as a superfood, containing high amounts of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals with research supporting it may help promote health and well-being.

“Flaxseed has many good-for-you components that make it a great choice as part of an overall healthy lifestyle,” says Kate Laurin, a nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Care. “It contains alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, as well as lignans that have plant estrogen and antioxidant properties, and both soluble and insoluble fiber, all of which are shown to have health benefits.”

A review of scientific studies summarized how flaxseed may play a role in improving health:
  1. Protects against heart disease

Study results showed that the superfood can lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and increase HDL. Additionally, lower blood pressure was seen in several other studies.

  1. Prevents and controls diabetes

Studies concluded that consuming flaxseed can improve glycemic control in those with pre-diabetes, and improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes.

  1. Reduces risk and progression of cancer

Flaxseed is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidant lignans, which studies show can inhibit tumor growth and disease progression of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

  1. Improves digestive health

Consuming flaxseed has a beneficial effect on gut microflora, which is important for proper functioning of your digestive system, immune system and more. Studies also report significant improvement of constipation symptoms and stool consistency.

  1. Other benefits:
  • Fights inflammation
  • Significantly decreases menopausal symptoms including hot flashes
  • Decreases skin sensitivity and improves wound healing
How to eat more flaxseed

“Flaxseed is one of the most versatile foods out there,” Laurin says. “With it’s mild nutty taste, it’s delicious to add to sweet and savory dishes alike and even in your baking, to provide extra flavor and texture, as well as the potential benefits to your health.”

She also says that ground or milled flaxseed is preferred as the nutrients are easily absorbed, versus whole seeds that can pass through your digestive tract intact.

Easy ways to incorporate flaxseed into your daily diet include:

  • Sprinkle on yogurt and in smoothies.
  • Add to your oatmeal or any hot or cold cereal.
  • Sprinkle seeds on salads or add to the dressing.
  • Add to your homemade granola bars and energy bites.
  • When making cookies, quick breads, muffins, pancakes or waffles, substitute ground flaxseed for some of the flour (try 10-25%).
  • Stir into soup, stews and other hot dishes.
  • Mix into meat or veggie patties.

Looking for a provider as part of your healthier lifestyle? Find one that’s right for you in Illinois or Wisconsin.  

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  1. Thank you for the article! I was completely unaware of how important flaxseed is, especially with progression of cancer. Also appreciate the tips on how to use.

  2. Gretchen Schweiss January 30, 2024 at 11:37 am · Reply

    I add ground flaxseed to my banana bread–makes it much nuttier and more nutritious. I also add it to my smoothies. To anyone near a Trader Joe’s, they sell it packaged for a really good price.

  3. I use in a 3-2-1 breading mix consisting of parmesan cheese, ground golden flax seed and almond flour

  4. What is a serving? Is a sprinkle enough? A 1/4 cup?

  5. Since working with Polish construction workers in Chicago, I had a very bad gut problem years ago. They told me to buy some flaxseed and grind it in a coffee grinder then put a scoop full in a glass and put hot water is if you’re making tea I did this for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, I canceled all my doctors appointments with the G.I. doctor and I noticed my blood pressure dropped and my cholesterol is lower. Of course I change my diet from the stomach pain but I believe the flaxseed really help me out it’s magic.

  6. Read the latest enewsletter regarding benefits of flax. Tried flax milk with yogurt and tofu plus ground brown and white flax seed from OUTPOST NATURAL FOODS Coop. Yummy.
    25% carbs 36% fat 39% protein

  7. Will flex seeds oil gives the same benefits as seeds?.

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.