Flax seeds – uses, benefits and contraindications

For centuries, flax seeds or also known as linseed, have been known for their health properties.

Charles the Great ordered his soldiers to eat flax seeds for their health. So it is not surprising that they have acquired the name Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful” in Latin.

Today, flax seeds are considered a superfood. More and more research points to its health benefits.

In particular, flax seeds have a positive effect on regulating blood sugar levels and creating a long-lasting feeling of fullness, which is why they are recommended for weight loss.

This article looks at the science-backed health benefits of flax seeds.

What are flax seeds?

Flax is the seed of the Linum usitatissimum plant, also known as flax. The seeds are obtained by extracting the plant and are suitable for human use and consumption.

The stem of the flax plant is used to make fabrics, while oil and hair can be made from its seed.

Flax seeds are one of the sources with the most health benefits. Along with chia seeds, they contain the highest amount of vegetable Omega-3, fiber, and high-quality vegetable proteins.

Nutritional properties of flax seeds

Flaxseed has unique nutritional properties, which are associated with numerous health benefits. These properties are due to its chemical composition: high dietary fiber content (20-25%), Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (20-22%) by weight, and phytochemicals called lignans.

Flax seeds are also characterized by a high mineral content: 100 g will provide 124% of the daily norm of manganese, 98% of the magnesium model, 64% of phosphorus, 32% of iron, and 29 % zinc¹.

Below you can see the detail of the properties of flax seeds (6):

Water 6.9 g
Calories 534 kcal
Proteias 18 g
Total fat 42 g
Total carbohydrates 29 g
Total fiber 27 g
Sugars 1.5 g
Football 255 mg
Iron 5.7 mg
Magnesium 392 mg
Potassium 813 mg
Sodium 30 mg
Zinc 4.3 mg
Copper 1.2 mg
C vitamin 0.6 mg
Thiamine 1.6 mg
Vitamin B6 0.5 mg
Folate 87 µg
Retinol 0 µg
Lutein and zeaxanthin 651 µg
Vitamin E 0.3 mg
Saturated fatty acids 3.7 g
Monosaturated fatty acids 7.5 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 28.7 g

Flax seeds benefits

According to various research, flax seeds are beneficial for treating high blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, and even preventing certain types of cancer. (2,3,4)

People who ate 30 g of flax seeds a day for six months noticed a decrease in pressure. In 17% of the cases, a sharp decline in pressure increases was observed.

Other benefits of flaxseed are attributed to lignans, powerful antioxidants. With regular flax seeds, these substances reduce the risk of developing cancer (particularly breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men). (3)

In addition, one of its properties is its high content of vegetable fiber. Flax seeds are considered to benefit the intestinal flora and improve the digestion process.

Lastly, omega-3s are critically important in fighting inflammation. These are not produced in the human body and must come from food; flaxseed is a good source of these molecules.

The benefits of flax seeds are:

  • Improve bowel function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help lower lousy LDL cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer
  • Reduce inflammation

Are flax seeds good for weight loss?

Eating flax seeds regularly is particularly helpful in weight loss processes. They provide essential nutrients and offer a long-term feeling of fullness.

Although the level of assimilation of Omega-3s of vegetable origin (alpha-linoleic acid or ALA) is approximately 7-10 times lower than that of omega-3s in fish oil (EPA and DHA), flax seeds can be used successfully to cover Omega-3 deficiency. Especially useful for vegetarians.

In this case, the healing properties of flaxseed are best manifested in oil since it contains a significant amount of vegetable omega-3 acids. Please note that the oil must be stored in a dark and cool place; strictly prohibited frying.

Several studies have shown that with a daily intake of 20 g of ground flax seeds for one month, the blood sugar level decreased by 8-20% 5. Scientists believe that the effect is achieved due to the high fiber content in flaxseed.

In turn, blood sugar levels are directly related to levels of insulin, a critical hormone that stores energy in fat. High levels of sugar (and insulin) are associated with obesity, while to lose weight, it is important to keep sugar levels under control.

How to eat flax seeds to lose weight?

Flax seeds should be consumed daily; about 20-30 g (2-3 teaspoons) is enough to obtain its benefits.

You can add flaxseed to yogurt, kefir, or even smoothies. In the form of flour, you can use it to make healthy bread or sweet cakes.

Another way you can add them to your meals is in salads, adding them last to meats or your favorite sauces. When cooking flax seeds, be careful that they do not exceed a temperature greater than 180 degrees since when they reach this temperature, they acquire a bitter taste.

One of the properties of flaxseed is that it helps reduce hunger pangs, which is essential when following a weight loss diet.

The minerals contained in flaxseed are also helpful for weight loss by direct regulation of metabolism. For example, magnesium plays a crucial role in energy metabolism, and its lack is associated with lack of sleep, a feeling of loss of strength, and even muscle spasms.

Uses of flaxseed

Flax or linseed seeds are not only used as food but also in cosmetics, medicine, and making fabrics. The uses of flaxseed are:

  1. In cosmetics

This linseed oil is used in the cosmetic industry to manufacture creams, scrubs, and other skin products. The highest quality oil is used in these cases, whose mucilage content is high.

  1. In medicine

The oil and flaxseeds are used in medicine as a laxative due to their high linoleic acid content. Upon contact with water, the flaxseed shell forms a complex that, when ingested, stimulates the receptors located in the intestinal walls that cause more significant excision.

  1. In gastronomy

In some Latin American countries, a gastronomic drink is prepared based on ground flaxseed, usually accompanied by lemon juice. Additionally, flaxseed oil is used to prepare vegetarian recipes and is ideal as a vegetable source of omega-3 acids for those opting for a vegan diet.

  1. In the textile industry

One of the oldest uses for linseed is to make high-quality, durable fabrics and fabrics. One of the properties of the stems is their high content of compounds capable of being used to form materials for both clothes and linen sheets.

Contraindications and possible side effects

Flax seeds are considered a safe food for health. However, since one of the properties of flaxseed is a high amount of vegetable fiber, some people may have digestive problems.

Some side effects of flaxseeds are:

  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache

In addition, flax seeds are contraindicated for people with particular allergies to any of its components. There are no known severe contraindications for most drugs, although they may interact slightly with phytoestrogens. The contraindications of flaxseeds are:

  • People taking medications with estrogens or phytoestrogens
  • Bowel obstruction
  • People with acute uterine fibroids

ABSTRACT

  • Flax or linseed seeds are an inexpensive superfood and easy to combine with meals.
  • Its most critical nutritional properties are its high fiber content, vegetable Omega-3, and minerals.
  • Flax seeds are good for treating high blood pressure. Consuming it regularly also has other benefits, such as reducing blood sugar levels and lowering bad LDL cholesterol.
  • The uses of the flax plant not only include gastronomy. But it is also a product used in cosmetics, medicine, and the manufacture of fabrics.

 

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