Proven Health Benefits of Ground Flax Seeds and Flaxseed Meal (Science Based)

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds and flaxseed meal are a rich source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Flaxseed meal is a great addition to your diet because flaxseeds are low in calories, low in carbs, and are gluten-free. Eating raw ground flaxseeds can help to improve your heart health, lose weight, boost your digestive health, and improve your skin’s appearance. There are studies showing that certain compounds in flaxseed meal have anticancer activity.

Consuming flaxseed meal is also good if you have a gluten intolerance. Flaxseed isn’t a grain, and it contains more nutrients than many grains do without having any gluten. The high fiber content of flaxseed and its low carbohydrate value means that flaxseed meal is good for diabetics and others who need to consume low-starch foods.

In this article, you will learn about the many reasons why flaxseed meal is good for you. You will also find out how much flaxseed you need to eat to lose weight, maintain heart health, lower cholesterol, and improve cognitive function.

What Are Flaxseeds?

Flaxseeds are a functional food because of their high nutritional value. Flax or flax seeds (Latin, Linum usitatissimum) are also called linseeds.

Flaxseeds look like small flat seeds that can vary in color from golden yellow to dark brown. Raw flaxseeds have a distinct nutty taste.

The seeds of the flax plant contain an outer shell. These shells are edible but are difficult to digest. That is why when using flaxseeds in drinks or eating the seeds raw, you need to grind the flax seeds into a powder.

The Journal of Food and Science Technology reports that all parts of the flaxseed plant can be used. The stalks of the flax plant are used in industry for making strong fiber. However, in recent years, many people have become interested in the therapeutic use of flaxseeds for treating various health conditions. (1)

Flaxseed is a rich source of healthy fats, lignans (plant-based phytoestrogens with antioxidant properties), and dietary fiber. In fact, researchers say that flaxseed can contain up to 800 times more lignans than other grains, seeds, or legumes. (2)

What is Flaxseed Meal?

Flaxseed meal is seeds from the flax plant that have been ground up into a type of flaxseed flour. Consuming flaxseed meal allows you to get all the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins from seeds.

Flaxseed meal looks like a powder substance and will help to improve the nutritional value of your meals and drinks. In fact, because flaxseed meal has so much fiber, you will feel fuller for longer after having one or 2 spoons of flaxseed.

You can add a teaspoon or 2 of flaxseed meal to drink with a glass of water. Or, you can grind up flax seeds and sprinkle a tablespoon of flaxseed on your salad, soup or yogurt. You can also add milled flaxseed to your favorite smoothie.

Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Meal

Consuming whole seeds from the flax plant will usually end up with them going straight through your digestive system. Although chewing flaxseeds will help to break them up and make them easier to digest, many will remain whole and intact.

When adding flax seed to your diet, it is best to grind flaxseed to create flaxseed flour or powder. This lets your body absorb all the nutrients that are packed into each seed.

For example, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports on the nutritional difference between whole flaxseed and flaxseed meal.

Ingesting milled flaxseed resulted in the body absorbing omega-3 fatty acids. However, consuming whole flaxseeds did not release any omega-3. In fact, consuming whole flax seeds resulted in gastrointestinal upset. (3)

Flaxseed meal is rich in healthy fats and fiber, so it’s great to use it when you are baking. This will also increase the fiber content of your food and add a nutty flavor.

When buying flaxseeds to use in your diet, you should always buy whole seeds. You should then grind them into powder when you want to use them. This way you retain all of the nutritional value of flax seeds.

Flaxseed Meal – Nutrition Facts

Consuming ground flaxseed as part of a healthy diet can give you plenty of nutrients that are good for your health.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseeds contain just 13 calories and 0.7 grams of carbohydrates. (4)

This relatively small serving of 4 grams of flaxseed meal (2 tsp.) contains 0.7 grams of fiber which is 3% of your recommended daily intake (RDI).

Researchers have also found that flaxseed meal is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). More than 70% of the oil in each flaxseed is alpha-linolenic (ALA) omega-3 fatty acid. 10 grams of milled flaxseed contains 2,338 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. (5)

Flaxseed also contains proteins and essential amino acids.

One of the many health benefits of flaxseeds is that they are rich in lignans. Studies have shown that flaxseeds are one of the richest foods for lignans. Lignan-rich foods help to improve the gut’s microflora and they also have an antioxidant and anticancer effect. (2, 6)

Another reason to eat ground flaxseeds is that they contain antioxidants. As well as lignans having antioxidant potential, there are other compounds in flaxseed that help destroy toxins in the body. (7)

Some studies show that humans can consume up to 50 g of flaxseeds per day without any adverse side effects. (5)

You can also improve the fiber content and antioxidant content of baked goods and snacks by incorporating flaxseed. The journal Food Research International reported that heat doesn’t destroy the antioxidant capability of flaxseeds. (8)

How to Grind Flaxseeds to Make Flaxseed Meal

The easiest way to make your own flaxseed meal is to put a couple of tablespoons in a coffee grinder and mill the seeds. You can then add a few teaspoons of flaxseed powder to your favorite smoothie.

It is good to remember that the nutritional value of ground flaxseed can quickly be lost. So, put any leftover flaxseed meal in your freezer for later use.

What Are Flaxseeds Good For? Scientifically Proven Benefits of Flaxseed Meal

Let’s look in more detail at what scientific studies have revealed as to the many reasons why flaxseeds are so good for you.

Flaxseed Meal Is Good for Weight Loss

Ground flaxseeds can help you lose body fat because it is highly nutritious and contains a lot of fiber.

A review of randomized controlled trials found that flaxseed supplementation has an anti-obesity effect. Taking doses of up to 30 g of flaxseed meal daily for 12 weeks can help to reduce waistline, improve body mass index, and reduce body weight. (9)

You can also drink flaxseed meal in water if you want to lose weight. One randomized study involving 44 persons found that a flax drink with 2.5 g of flaxseed fiber helped to reduce appetite and lower energy intake. (10)

Adding flaxseed meal to your daily diet can help you to manage your weight and suppress your feelings of hunger.

Flaxseed Meal is an Anti-Inflammatory Food

Ground seeds from the flax plant can also help protect your health from chronic disease caused by long-term inflammation.

Researchers have discovered that chronic inflammation can affect the body’s immune system, making it susceptible to disease. Inflammation is connected to diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. (11)

Research published in 2018 found that the high omega-3 content of flaxseed meal has anti-inflammatory properties. Regularly consuming flax meal helps to inhibit cytokines that are connected to inflammation. (12)

A review of randomized controlled trials has shown that flaxseed oil and lignans from flaxseed meal also reduce chronic inflammation in obese individuals. (13)

Interestingly, wound dressings made from flax fiber have a unique anti-inflammatory effect and can be a more effective type of wound dressing than regular dressings. (14)

Find out what other foods are on the anti-inflammatory foods list that can help lower your risk of chronic disease.

Flaxseed Meal Promotes Good Heart Health

Because ground flaxseed contains omega-3 and is high in antioxidants, flaxseed consumption helps protect your cardiac health.

There are a number of factors which combine in flaxseed to make it so good for your heart health.

Flaxseed meal lignans have been shown to exert a positive effect on cardiovascular health. For example, flax lignans help to prevent a buildup of plaque in the arteries. (15)

Other studies point to the fact that flaxseeds are one of the best plant sources of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Long-term ALA intake can have a positive effect in preventing cardiovascular disease. (16)

One randomized trial found that consuming 60 g of flaxseed meal per day helped to reduce vascular-related inflammation and help prevent blood clots. (17)

Learn about other foods and herbs you can add to your diet that promote good cardiovascular health.

Flaxseed Meal Helps Lower Blood Pressure

If you suffer from hypertension, then consuming milled flaxseed every day can help to reduce high blood pressure.

A review of 11 studies on the effects of flaxseed powder on blood pressure found positive results. The high fiber, lignan, and omega-3 content of ground flaxseed helped to lower blood pressure. (18)

Some studies showed that consuming flaxseeds for more than 12 weeks has a better effect than flaxseed supplements (extracts). (18)

One year-long trial found that consuming flaxseed regularly had an “impressive reduction” on hypertension. (19)

Learn about other natural remedies you can use if you need to keep your blood pressure under control.

Flax Meal Is Good if You Need to Lower High Cholesterol

Regularly consuming the powder of ground flaxseeds can help lower your risk of cardiac events caused by high cholesterol.

One randomized controlled trial involving men with high cholesterol found that lignans and fiber in flaxseed meal help to lower cholesterol. The group who received 100 mg a day of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG, or flaxseed lignan) showed a significant reduction of cholesterol in a 12-week period. (20)

Another crossover study found that drinking flaxseed water daily helped to lower LDL (or, “bad”) cholesterol by 15%. (21)

Other studies on the effects of flaxseed on men have found that flaxseed fiber was better than wheat fiber at lowering LDL cholesterol. (22)

You can add flax meal to your list of 10 things to do to lower your cholesterol naturally.

Flaxseed Meal Can Help if You Have PCOS

Taking ground flaxseed every day can be good if you suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects many women. This disorder causes irregular periods, excessive facial hair growth, and weight gain.

Researchers have found that flaxseed can reduce levels of testosterone and lower androgen levels. High levels of these hormones in women are often connected to PCOS.

In a case study one woman took 30 g of flaxseed supplements daily for a 4-month period. The woman reported a decrease in her symptoms of PCOS. Scientists also noted a decrease in androgen levels. (23)

As well as taking flaxseed meal for PCOS, find out about more natural ways you can manage symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Flaxseed Helps to Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy

The high omega-3 content of ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil means that there are many benefits of using flaxseed products on your skin.

Scientific studies have shown that consuming flaxseed oil supplements can help to alleviate dry skin conditions and improves the appearance of skin. (24)

Flaxseed oil (linseed oil) also has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. This means that taking flaxseed oil can also help treat inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. (25, 26)

Learn about what other foods you can consume daily to help keep your skin soft and reduce the appearance of wrinkles naturally.

Flaxseed Is Good for Hair Growth

Milled flaxseed contains many of the nutrients and fatty acids that are needed to help keep hair and scalp healthy.

Although there is no direct scientific research that flaxseed oil and flaxseed meal could help hair growth on humans, studies on animal subjects have shown positive results.

Results from a study in 2013 showed that daily consumption of flaxseed oil promoted hair growth in rabbits. (27)

Another study reported that flaxseed was good for hair growth. Scientists found that over a 3-month period, daily consumption of flaxseed meal boosted hair growth and increased hair length on rabbits. (28)

Find out about some interesting clinical trials involving humans showing which natural ingredients can make hair grow faster.

Flaxseed Meal Promotes Healthy Digestion

One of the health benefits you will feel when consuming ground flaxseeds every day is that your digestive health should improve.

Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber because about 40% of the flax seed is either soluble fiber or insoluble fiber. (2)

Researchers say that fiber is essential for good digestion. Fiber absorbs water and helps to bulk-up stool, making it easier to pass. A high-fiber diet helps to increase stool frequency and prevent many digestive diseases. (29)

Partially defatted flaxseed meal is also an effective natural laxative that can help manage symptoms of constipation in mice. (30)

Flaxseed is Gluten-Free

Milled flaxseed doesn’t contain gluten and, therefore, won’t interfere with your digestion if you have a gluten intolerance.

The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nature reported in 2018 that flaxseed can be added to gluten-free bakery products to improve their nutritional content. (31)

Flaxseed Meal Helps Protect Against Cognitive Dysfunction

The ALA fatty acid content and the presence of lignans in ground flaxseed also help to improve your brain function and deal with stressful conditions better.

Scientists conducted a trial on 35 postmenopausal women using flax seed extracts. Scientists noted that flaxseed supplements helped to reduce mental stress and blood pressure during difficult cognitive tests. (32)

Other studies have shown that alpha-linolenic acid from flax seed also has a positive effect on the brain. Getting enough ALA omega-3 fatty acid can help protect against neurological conditions like anxiety and depression. (33)

Research on rats found that consuming flaxseed while pregnant had a neuroprotective effect on their offspring. (34)

Learn about what are the best natural supplements to take if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or chronic stress.

Flaxseed Meal Is Good for Managing Symptoms of Diabetes

The fact that flaxseed is low in carbs, calories, and high in protein means they are a good food source if you suffer from diabetes.

The journal Kidney International reported on studies that have shown flaxseed to have the potential to prevent complications of diabetes like kidney disease and kidney damage. (35)

Other studies indicate that consuming flax lignan supplements can help to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in humans. (36)

One study involving diabetics with foot ulcers found that supplementing the diet with 1,000 mg omega-3 flaxseed oil helped the ulcers heal quicker and also improve other diabetes markers. (37)

If you suffer from diabetes or have pre-diabetes conditions, find out what are the best foods to eat to help keep blood glucose under control.

Flaxseed Meal Has Anticancer Properties

Certain compounds in flaxseed extract have been studied for their anticancer activity.

Research in 2018 found that lignans in flaxseeds have a structure similar to estrogen and exert an anti-estrogen activity. Some clinical trials on postmenopausal women have shown that flaxseed consumption can help to lower the risk of breast cancer. (39)

Other studies have shown that men taking 30 g of flaxseed daily can lower their risk of prostate cancer. (40)

Some lab trials have found that the ALA omega-3 content in flaxseed oil can help protect against colon cancer. (41) Lignans in flaxseed also have a protective effect on colorectal cancer. (42)

Of course, more research needs to be done to see how flaxseed and extracts from flax seed meal can be utilized more in cancer treatment.

Flaxseed Meal Can Benefit Menopausal Women

Adding ground flax seeds to your diet can help to alleviate many of the symptoms during the menopause.

One study from 2015 found that taking 5 grams of flaxseed daily helped to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. The women taking the flaxseed supplement also experienced an improved quality of life. (38)

As well as taking milled flaxseeds during the menopause, find out what other natural supplements can help to relieve your symptoms.

How to Store Flaxseed Meal?

When you grind flaxseed into a powder, the nutrient value starts to decrease, and the flaxseed oils can become rancid relatively quickly.

You should store whole flax seeds until you want to create flaxseed meal. If you want to grind up more flax seed than you intend to use, place them in the freezer.

How Much Flaxseed to Consume Daily

When consuming flaxseeds for their health benefits, always consume flaxseed meal to make sure you get the most of their health benefits.

Most studies show that consuming up to 50 grams of ground flaxseed daily is safe. This is about 5 tablespoons of whole seed. (5)

5 tablespoons of whole flaxseeds ground into powder will give you 2.8 g of fiber (11% RDI), 2338 mg of omega-3, 40.2 mg of magnesium (10% RDI), 26 mg calcium (3% RDI), and 1.9 g of protein (4% RDI).

How to Use Flaxseeds or Flaxseed Meal

There are many ways that you can add flaxseed meal to your daily diet.

For example, you can grind up a tablespoon of whole flax seeds and add them to your breakfast cereal, yogurt or morning smoothie.

You can sprinkle a desert spoon of flaxseed meal on your sandwich that you have at lunchtime.

If you enjoy baking, then you can add ground flaxseeds to your recipe to increase the nutritional content of baked goods.

It is also possible to make flaxseed water. Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to an 8-Fl.oz. glass of water. Leave to stand for 30 minutes until it takes on a gel-like consistency. Drink the flaxseed water first thing in the morning.

You can also sprinkle ground flaxseed on salads, porridge and soups.

Side Effects of Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are extremely healthy and contain plenty of fiber and nutrients. Because flaxseeds are high in fiber, you may notice that you have more frequent bowel movements. You also may experience side effects of flaxseeds such as bloating or gas.

You should also consume plenty of water when consuming flaxseed meal to prevent the powder from bulking up in your digestive system and blocking your intestines.

There is also some evidence that taking flaxseed in high doses could lower men’s testosterone levels. (43)

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