12 Benefits of Eating Flax Seeds

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Flax seeds are rich in nutrients, including protein, fiber, and anti-inflammatory fats. It benefits many parts of the body, from the brain to the gut.

Flax seeds in a white bowl with a wooden spoon.

What Are Flax Seeds?

Flax seeds are the seeds of flax, a plant that grows blue flowers. It’s native to the area between the east Mediterranean and India, but today it grows all over the world.

In the United States, flax plants are grown for their seeds. The seeds are tiny, teardrop-shaped, and come in brown or yellow.

Thanks to their nutty flavor, flax seeds are delicious in smoothies. They’re also known as a superfood, as they’re packed with nutrients like anti-inflammatory fats, protein, and vitamins.

At the grocery store, flax seeds are available whole or ground. Both are healthy options, but ground flax seed has a shorter shelf-life.

RELATED: 12 Benefits of Eating Hemp Seeds

12 Flax Seed Health Benefits

1. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is a naturally occurring process in the body. It’s needed to keep us healthy. But too much inflammation may lead to sickness, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Flax seeds can control this inflammation. This is due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which have natural anti-inflammatory effects.

Omega-3 fats could also help by improving the balance of gut bacteria, which is involved in overall inflammation.

2. Fights Oxidative Stress

Adding flax seeds to your smoothies is an easy way to increase your intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress. This can protect your cells, potentially reducing the risk of disease.

Examples of antioxidants in flax seeds include phenolic acids, lignans, and flavonoids. They also have vitamins with antioxidant properties, like vitamin C and lutein.

Even some of the proteins in flax seeds have antioxidant effects, further adding to the health benefits.

3. Increases Satiety

If you’re trying to control hunger throughout the day, add flax seeds to your next smoothie recipe.

As a high source of fiber, flax seeds enhance satiety. This is the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Fiber works by triggering the production of anti-hunger hormones. It also moves slowly through the body, so it stays in your gut for longer.

Additionally, 20-25% of flax seeds are made of protein, and 40-45% are made of healthy fats. Both protein and fat increase fullness.

4. Improves Brain Function

Omega-3 fatty acids are major components in the brain’s tissues. So, when included in the diet, they have many positive effects on the brain. The fats can protect neurons, or nerve cells, from damage. This is key because neurons control brain function.

Supplementing with omega-3 fats also boosts blood circulation in the brain, ensuring it gets enough oxygen. What’s more, the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in the brain, a major contributor to brain disease.

5. Helps Digestive Health

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that’s needed for good digestion. It promotes regular bowel movements and prevents digestive issues. However, most people in the United States only eat about 15 grams of fiber a day. That’s about half the daily recommendation of 25 to 30 grams.

One easy way to boost your fiber intake is to add flax seeds to smoothies. In two tablespoons, you’ll get about 4 grams of fiber. The fiber in flax seed also improves beneficial bacteria in the gut. It acts as a prebiotic, meaning it “feeds” good bacteria.

6. Manages Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a risk factor for heart disease. It happens when your blood places too much force on your blood vessels. The anti-hypertensive effects of omega-3 fats in flax seeds could help. If a food is “anti-hypertensive,” it means it naturally decreases blood pressure.

According to research, omega-3 fatty acids might work by stopping certain chemical reactions. The result is lower blood pressure. These effects have been found to be better with whole flax seeds, rather than the ground version.

7. Promotes Healthy Cholesterol

Flax seeds contain soluble fiber, a type of fiber that removes extra cholesterol from the body.

Soluble fiber works by attaching itself to cholesterol. When the fiber leaves the body in the stool, it takes the cholesterol with it. This prevents the cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood, reducing blood cholesterol.

Since high blood cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, this cholesterol-lowering of flax seeds can keep your heart healthy.

8. Regulates Blood Sugar

Diabetes is a condition that happens when blood glucose is higher than normal, healthy levels. The soluble fiber in flax seeds could control blood sugar levels, potentially managing or preventing diabetes.

Soluble fiber lowers postprandial glucose, or blood sugar levels after eating. It does this by slowing down how fast sugar is absorbed into the blood.

The healthy fats in flax seeds help too. They increase insulin, the hormone that controls glucose levels in the blood.

9. Aids Weight Management

If weight loss or management is one of your health goals, it’s worth eating flax seeds. Due to the fiber in flax seeds, the ingredients are beneficial for increasing fullness. This can reduce your appetite, making it easier to control cravings.

According to research, soluble fiber can help lower weight and body mass index, or BMI. As flax seeds are packed with soluble fiber, it can be useful in controlling weight in a healthy way.

10. Enhances Skin Health

With their high content of omega-3 fats, flax seeds may benefit inflammatory skin problems. This includes skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Omega-3 fatty acids might protect the skin from sun damage as well.

The antioxidants in flax seeds are good for the skin too. Antioxidants fight oxidative stress, which is harmful for the skin.

Specifically, antioxidants protect skin cells from photodamage, or damage caused by UV rays. They’re known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles as well.

11. Contributes to Exercise Recovery

After physical activity, it’s crucial to consume enough protein. The nutrient will support muscle building and help your body recover.

Flax seeds are a source of protein. Since it’s a plant, this is helpful if you don’t eat animal products. Keep in mind that flax seeds aren’t a complete protein. This means you still need protein from other sources in order to fully support muscle growth.

However, flax seeds can certainly boost protein content and the omega-3 fats may support muscle recovery too.

12. Supports Vitamin Absorption

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they need to be consumed with fat to be absorbed. In the body, the vitamins are absorbed in by fat molecules in the intestines. The vitamins then enter the bloodstream or liver.

As all 4 vitamins are essential, it’s important to pair them with a fat source. Flax seeds are great option, since they contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Adding flax seeds to smoothies is an easy to consume fat-soluble vitamins with fat. That’s because many fruits and vegetables contain those vitamins.

Side Effects

Flax seed allergies are possible. If you have a history of food allergies, especially to seeds, be careful when eating flax seeds for the first time.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include hives, wheezing, lip swelling, and tingling in the mouth.

Also, flax seeds are high in fiber. Add it to your diet slowly to avoid constipation and other digestive issues.

Flax Seed Tips

Store in an air-tight container.

Exposure to oxygen can make seeds, including flax seeds, go bad quickly. You can prevent this by keeping them in a container with an air-tight lid.

Keep it in a cool, dark place.

Light, like oxygen, can make flax seeds spoil. Place them in an area away from light, like a dark pantry.

Don’t add too much to smoothies.

When blending flax seeds into smoothies, only use 1 or 2 tablespoons. The seeds have a nutty flavor that can overpower the drink if you add too much.


Leave a Comment