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You may have noticed that flaxseeds have been getting a lot of attention lately. You can thank TikTok for shedding light on this powerful seed. Users make claims that flaxseed gel applied to the face is the same as Botox (more on that later).
But social media trends aside, flaxseed has long been a food that dietitians have encouraged as part of a healthy diet. And whether or not the latest buzzy trend has merit, there are plenty of reasons why they should be part of your daily diet.
For one, tiny seeds pack a lot of beneficial nutrients into a small package. With healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, flaxseed serves a ton of health benefits. They also contain an estrogen-like compound, called lignans, which positively influences female hormones. Plus, flaxseed adds a nutty and crunchy flavor to any meal, with a bonus nutritional boost.
Learn the nutrition facts of flaxseeds, the health benefits of eating these tiny but mighty seeds and simple ways to include them in your diet.
Flaxseed nutrition facts
Two tablespoons of flaxseed (the recommended serving size on most packages) contains:
4 grams of protein
9 grams of fat
6 grams of carbohydrates
6 grams of fiber (21% daily value (DV))
80 milligrams magnesium (19% DV)
6 and selenium (11% DV)
0.4 milligrams thiamin (33% DV)
Benefits of flaxseed
Flaxseeds are small, but the nutritional profile is solid. A 2019 review states that the good unsaturated omega-3 fat in flaxseed acts as an antioxidant and is responsible for bone health. The most promising research is in the areas of cardiovascular disease and cancer management.
Specifically, a meta-analysis of more than 30 studies found that supplementing the diet with various flaxseed products was an effective way to lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study had people with high cholesterol or high triglycerides supplement with 30 grams (cups) of flaxseed powder for 3 months. At the end of the 3-month period, participants had lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower triglycerides and higher HDL (good) cholesterol. The authors attribute these results to the healthy fats in flaxseeds, as well as dietary lignans, a class of phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like compounds) with antioxidant properties.
Because flaxseeds play a role in fighting inflammation, they have been studied in cancer research. Animal studies suggest that omega-3 can suppress the growth, size and expansion of cancer cells. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed may influence breast cancer therapy. Lignans have a very similar chemical structure to an estrogen molecule. Some breast cancers contain estrogen receptors, and the lignans from flaxseeds bind to those receptors, reducing cancer cell growth.
Finally, the fiber in flaxseeds can contribute to digestive health, such as treating constipation and creating a healthy and diverse microbiome. Fiber also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is important for those with diabetes.
Is flaxseed good for weight loss?
Foods rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats, such as flaxseeds, help with satiety and regulate hunger, making them good for weight loss. A meta-analysis of 45 studies noted that eating flaxseeds as part of a healthy diet can reduce body weight and waist size. Research also suggests that consuming more than 30 grams (cups) for longer than 12 weeks positively affects body composition.
Does flaxseed reduce belly fat?
It’s a common nutrition myth that any diet can reduce belly fat. In fact, it is impossible to target fat loss to a specific part of the body. When you lose weight, you may see reductions in size in many areas of the body, including your stomach, legs, chest or arms. Although flaxseeds can contribute to weight loss, they don’t magically melt away belly fat.
How much flaxseed a day is good?
There is no standard serving size for flaxseeds, although most packages recommend 2 to 3 tablespoons (about 1 ounce) per serving. The USDA counts 1-ounce of seeds as equal to 1-ounce of protein (most people need at least 5-6 ounces per day).
Should flaxseed be eaten in the morning or evening?
There isn’t any research on the best time of day to eat flaxseeds, so include them in your diet whenever you want. The best time to eat them is a time that works for you! Many people like to sprinkle them on their morning oatmeal or smoothie or lunchtime salad or grain bowl.
Who should not eat flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are safe for most healthy people. Because of their high fiber content, eating too much of them can cause gas and bloating. If you’re concerned about this, stick to the 2 to 3 tablespoon recommendation.
Although the lignans in flaxseed have been shown to be beneficial for women’s health, some people with breast cancer or other hormonal conditions may be concerned about eating flaxseeds. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor about including them in your diet.
Are there any benefits to using flaxseeds in your skincare routine?
You may have seen claims on TikTok that flaxseed water gel is the same as Botox. Flaxseeds contain healthy fats and vitamin E, two nutrients that benefit the skin when eaten. That said, putting flaxseed on your face isn’t the same as eating it and it’s certainly not the same as Botox. If you want to reap the skin benefits of flaxseeds, add them to your diet.
Healthy flaxseed recipes
From smoothies to baked goods to granola, there are many ways to eat more flaxseed. Here are some of our favorite recipes:
Peach Melba with Flaxseed Streusel by Greg Baxtrom
Sweet Potato Pancakes by Jenn Claiborne
Chocolate Banana Flax Muffins by Daphne Oz
Divine Start Smoothie by Catherine McCord
This article was originally published on TODAY.com
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