Seasonal fruits and vegetables pack a lot of nutritional content: everything from vitamins to minerals, and more. In the winter, vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes provide much, but not all, of what our bodies need to function. Enter the flax seeds.
One of the oldest crops in the world, flaxseed is packed with nutritional benefits and surprisingly easy to incorporate into your diet. If you are interested in the benefits of flaxseed and want to know how to add this seed to your diet, read on.
What are the health benefits of flaxseed?
Whole flaxseeds may be tiny (and a small 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 minimize certain health risks, there are a ton of reasons to add this ancient culture to your diet. Below are all the benefits you get when you. incorporate this little superfood into your meals.
High in fiber for digestive health
Experts say just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of fiber, or 8% of the recommended daily value for women. Add a few tablespoons to your morning smoothie and you can easily meet 15% of your fiber needs in just one meal. It’s not just that flaxseed is high in fiber, but it’s specifically high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both of these are essential for promoting efficient digestion and preventing bloating. Soluble fiber slows digestion by absorbing water in your intestines, which can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation and promote regular bowel movements by helping food move through your digestive tract. Getting enough soluble and insoluble fiber ensures healthy bowel movements.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
If you’re over 50, your doctor has probably told you about essential fatty acids. Our bodies cannot 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 a type of fatty acid with many potential health benefits. Among these is supporting heart health and healthy cholesterol levels and helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. One of the best ways to get more ALA in your diet is to use flax seeds. That’s because it’s high in ALA, which has been linked 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
Flaxseeds may be low in carbs and calories, but they’re nutrient dense. A single tablespoon contains:
- 1.3 grams of protein
- 2.02 grams of carbs
- 10 percent daily value of thiamin
- 9% of the daily value of copper
- 8% daily value of manganese
- Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin B6 and folate
Meeting your daily vitamin and mineral needs can sometimes seem like an impossible task. How many supplements can a person take, after all? Adding flax seeds to your diet is like a life hack for nutritional balance
May help lower blood pressure
How does this healthy little food help lower cholesterol and support heart health and overall well-being? By helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, including systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Studies show that these benefits are especially important for people who already have high blood pressure. If you’re concerned about heart health, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, something as simple as adding flaxseed to your pancake batter or banana bread mix can help.
May help manage weight
Last but not least, consuming flax seeds can aid in weight loss and weight management. The rich fiber content of these tiny seeds helps you feel full longer, which helps reduce your appetite (and waistline). Since obesity puts a strain on cardiovascular health, including these healthy seeds in your diet can have a positive impact on more than just your weight. A review of dozens of studies found that adding flaxseed powder or whole seeds to your diet can promote healthy body weight and BMI.
How can I add flax seeds to my diet?
Clearly, flaxseed is a smart health hack. But how do 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 flaxseeds to meals and reap their amazing and watch the health benefits.
Here are four ways to incorporate flaxseed into meals:
- Smoothies: Adding flax seeds to a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to consume it. Three scoops of a mix of three seeds – chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds – along with oats, Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, coconut water and protein powder make a delicious AND nutritious breakfast.
- groats: If you don’t have a smoothie for breakfast, try oatmeal filled with berries, granola, and seeds. Like the smoothie, it’s a great way to introduce flaxseed into your diet without thinking about it.
- Bread mixes: Add a cup of flaxseed to batter when making breads and muffins. Just like lemon and poppy seeds, flax seeds go 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.
- Toast: When you crave a big piece of buttered toast or toast and jam, sprinkle a few pinches of flax seeds on top. They add texture and nutrients to an otherwise simple snack.
Plus, you can reap the nutty flavor benefits of flaxseeds by incorporating them 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 small grain with powerful health benefits. Whether it’s in a smoothie, a bowl of oatmeal, or your favorite breads and desserts, flax seeds are an easy addition to your diet. So have no fear – try flaxseed and feel the weight of your health problems melt away.