Seasonal fruits and veggies contain a great deal of nutritional content: everything from vitamins to minerals, and more. In winter, vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes provide much — but not all — of what our bodies need to function. Enter flaxseed.
One of the oldest crops in the world, flaxseed is jam-packed with nutritional benefits, and it’s surprisingly easy to incorporate into your diet. If you’re interested in the benefits of flaxseed and want to learn how to add this seed to your diet, read on.
What are the health benefits of flaxseed?
Whole flaxseeds might be tiny (and a tiny ingredient to add to recipes), but their nutritional profile packs a punch. From minerals and omega-3 fatty acids to their potential ability to support heart health and help minimize certain health risks, there are a ton of reasons to add this ancient crop to your diet. Below are all of the benefits you get when you. incorporate this tiny superfood into your meals.
Rich in fiber for digestive health
Experts say that just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of fiber, which is 8 percent of the recommended daily value for women. Add a couple of tablespoons to your morning smoothie and you could easily top 15 percent of your fiber needs with just one meal. It isn’t just that flaxseed is rich in fiber, though — it’s specifically rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both of these are vital for promoting effective digestion and preventing bloating. Soluble fiber slows down digestion by absorbing water in your intestines, which can help support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber can help ease constipation and promote regular bowel movements by helping food move through your digestive tract. Getting enough soluble and insoluble fiber ensures healthy bowel movements.
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you’re over 50, your doctor has likely spoken to you about essential fatty acids. Our bodies can’t produce fatty acids on their own, so it’s important to include them in your diet, especially as you age. Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is one type of fatty acid with many potential health benefits. Among these are supporting heart health and healthy cholesterol levels and helping to minimize the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. One of the best ways to get more ALA in your diet is with flaxseed. That’s because it’s rich in ALA, which has been tied to health benefits like a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. That’s a lot of benefits for an otherwise tiny grain.
Rich in Important Minerals and Nutrients
Flaxseed might be low in carbs and calories, but it’s high in nutrients. Just one tablespoon contains:
1.3 grams of protein
2.02 grams of carbohydrates
10 percent daily value of thiamine
9 percent daily value of copper
8 percent daily value of manganese
Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin B6, and folate
Meeting your daily vitamin and mineral needs can sometimes feel like an impossible task. How many supplements can a person take, after all? Adding flaxseed to your diet is like a life hack for nutritional balance
Can help reduce blood pressure
How does this tiny health food help lower cholesterol and promote heart health and overall wellness? By helping to support healthy blood pressure levels, including both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Studies show that these benefits are especially important for people already dealing with high blood pressure. If you’re concerned about heart health, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, something as simple as adding flaxseeds to your pancake batter or banana bread mix can help.
Can help manage weight
Last but certainly not least, consuming flaxseed can aid in weight loss and weight management. The rich fiber content in these tiny seeds helps you feel fuller longer, which helps curb your appetite (and your waistline). Given that obesity strains cardiovascular health, including these good-for-you seeds in your diet can positively impact more than just your weight. One review of dozens of studies found that adding flaxseed powder or whole seeds to your diet may support a healthy body weight and BMI.
How Can I Add Flaxseed Into My Diet?
Clearly, flaxseed is a smart health hack. But how can you incorporate it into your diet? It might seem a bit tricky at first — after all, how many recipes call for seeds? — but there are actually a ton of easy ways to add flaxseed to meals and reap their extraordinary and watch the health benefits.
Here are four ways to incorporate flaxseed into meals:
SmoothiesAdding flaxseed to a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to consume it. Three scoops of a tri-seed blend — chia seeds, flaxseed, and hemp seeds — along with oats, Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, coconut water, and protein powder make for a delicious AND nutritious breakfast.
OatmealIf you’re not having a smoothie for breakfast, try oatmeal loaded with berries, granola, and seeds. Like the smoothie, it’s a great way to sneak flaxseed into your diet without thinking about it.
bread mixesAdd a cup of flaxseed to the batter when you make breads and muffins. Just like lemon and poppy seeds, flaxseed pairs well with many bread mixes: pumpkin bread, banana bread, cranberry-orange muffins… really anything you can think of. They also add a satisfying crunch without overpowering the original recipe—it’s a win-win.
toastWhen you crave a thick piece of buttered toast or toast and jam, sprinkle a few pinches of flaxseed on top. They add texture and nutrients to an otherwise simple snack.
In addition, you can reap the benefits of flaxseed’s nutty flavor by incorporating it into soups and salad dressings.
Flaxseed: A Nutritional Superstar
When it comes to dietary fiber content, omega-3 fatty acids, important minerals, and disease prevention, flaxseed is a tiny grain with powerful health benefits. Whether in a smoothie, a bowl of oatmeal, or your favorite bread and dessert, flaxseed is an easy addition to your diet. So don’t be afraid — give flaxseed a try, and feel the weight of your health woes melt away.