Flax seeds are valuable foods rich in properties and benefits. Very rich in omega3, they are also excellent as a natural remedy in case of constipation. Find out about the properties, uses and contraindications of flax seeds.
Flax seeds are oil seeds derived from the Linum usitatissimum plant and should never be missing in our pantry, both for their nutritional properties (very useful even for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet) and for being an excellent natural remedy, especially if you suffer from constipation.
Those who find it difficult to use them can alternatively choose linseed oil which must always be used raw, kept in the refrigerator and, once opened, consumed within about 30 days.
It is in fact a very delicate product that goes rancid easily and only with due attention can it be done so that it retains all the benefits of the flax seeds from which it is derived. But what are the main properties of flax seeds? Let’s see them in detail.
Flax seeds: calories and nutritional values
Flax seeds, like all oil seeds, have a high calorie content. In particular, 100 grams of flax seeds provide 534 kcal. For this reason, especially if we are on a low-calorie diet, it is best not to abuse it and stick to the recommended quantities (3 or 4 teaspoons a day).
As for macronutrients, these seeds are an excellent source of good omega-3 and omega-6 fats, vegetable proteins and fiber. There are also vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin E, folic acid and some B vitamins.
Nutritional values per 100g of flax seeds:
- Waterfall: 6.96 g
- kcal: 534
- Proteins: 18.29 g
- Fat: 42.16 g
- of which saturated: 3.663 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.88 g
- of which sugars: 1.55 g
- Fibers: 27.3 g
- Linoleic acid: 5.903 g
- Linolenic acid: 22.813 g
- Soccer: 255 mg
- Iron: 8.2 mg
- Potassium: 725 mg
- Folate: 60 µg
- Vitamin E: 0.7 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.17 mg
- Vitamin B3: 1.4 mg
- Glycemic index: 35
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Flax seeds: benefits
Consumption of flaxseed has several health benefits. Specifically, they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power, are good for the intestine, the cardiovascular system and are useful in case of diabetes, but not only. Let’s see in detail all the benefits of these small seeds.
✓ Excellent source of omega 3
Flax seeds are one of the best vegetable sources of Omega 3, essential fatty acids useful for various functions of our body that we must necessarily take with food.
Generally our diet is deficient in Omega 3 and richer instead of Omega 6. Especially vegetarians and vegans, and all those who do not eat fish twice a week, risk an imbalance in the right ratio between these fatty acids and in particular a deficiency of Omega 3.
These substances, on the other hand, can be easily integrated using linseed or linseed oil, in the portion of 2/3 teaspoons a day. Furthermore, a daily intake of these natural products also ensures a good dose of mineral salts including potassium and phosphorus, vitamins (especially of the B group and vitamin E) and proteins.
✓ Lower blood cholesterol
Another benefit of flax seeds is to reduce blood cholesterol levels. These effects seem to be mainly due to the high presence of fibers, which bind to bile salts and are then excreted by the body. To replenish these bile salts, cholesterol is “taken” from the blood and carried to the liver. This process lowers blood cholesterol levels.
✓ Useful for lowering blood pressure
Regular consumption of flaxseed also appears to be beneficial in cases of hypertension . In this regard, a study has shown that consuming 30 grams of flaxseed per day for 6 months helps to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg and 7 mmHg respectively. Furthermore, in a review that examined data from 11 studies, it emerged that the daily intake of flaxseed for more than three months is able to lower blood pressure by 2 mmHg. A 2 mmHg reduction in blood pressure, while it may seem small, can reduce the risk of dying from stroke by 10% and heart disease by 7%.
✓ Effective against constipation
Flax seeds are considered real scavengers of our body as they help purify waste and restore the correct intestinal peristalsis. The daily intake of flax seeds, first left to deposit in water for one night, allows you to prevent and counter constipation. This property is due to the presence in these seeds of mucilage which, in contact with water, form a viscous substance with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties for the intestinal mucosa.
✓ Help against diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from consuming flaxseed. Some studies, in fact, have shown that the daily consumption of 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder for at least a month has led to an 8-20% reduction in blood sugar levels. This hypoglycemic effect is due, in particular, to the content of insoluble fibers, which slow down the release of sugar into the blood.
✓ Other benefits of flax seeds
Other benefits of flax seeds are the ability to stimulate the immune system, the anti-inflammatory effect, the protection of the urinary tract from infections such as cystitis and, used externally in the form of a gel, the ability to give shine to skin and hair.
How many flax seeds to eat per day
To obtain the benefits described above, it is advisable to consume 10 to 30 grams of flax seeds per day (equal to about 1-3 tablespoons), to be added to your daily diet. In general, however, it is recommended not to exceed 50 grams per day.
Should flax seeds be ground or used whole?
If we take them as a supplement of good fats, it is really essential to grind the flax seeds as the outside of these small seeds is very hard and is able to resist even the acidity of the stomach without being scratched. If they are taken whole, therefore, it is very likely to find them as they are in the stool. The fact that they passed through the gastrointestinal tract unscathed means that they could not perform the function for which they were hired. The same goes for the intake of flaxseed for cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension.
On the contrary, unground flax seeds may be more suitable for regulating intestinal functions.
How flax seeds are used
As we have seen, depending on the intended use, flax seeds can be eaten chopped or whole. We remind you that flax seeds are completely gluten-free and can also be consumed by those who are intolerant or allergic.
✓ Flaxseed as a natural Omega 3 supplement
Flax seeds are particularly rich in Omega 3, which is why vegetarians and vegans often include them in their diet or choose to use the flaxseed oil obtained from them, which retains the same properties. It is very important to know that to best maintain the properties of flax seeds, they must be stored in a cool and dry place, as they tend to go rancid very easily.
The generally recommended dose is 3 teaspoons of flax seeds, freshly chopped and used raw on vegetables or salads throughout the day. If you really don’t have time to grind them every time, you can take a small amount and store it ready in a glass jar for a couple of days. To grind them you can use a blender or crush them by hand with a mortar.
✓ In the morning, to regulate intestinal functions
Flax seeds are excellent for regulating intestinal functions. In this case, they can be eaten both whole and ground. The best effect, however, is obtained by consuming them whole in the morning, after being immersed in a glass of water for one night, only in this way can they release the mucilages, of which they are rich, useful for intestinal well-being.
A tablespoon of flaxseed is used, to be immersed in a glass of water. Leave the glass covered for a whole night and drink all the contents the next morning or filter and take only water rich in mucilage. It is a gentle system to improve intestinal transit (therefore excellent in case of constipation) and to relieve the mucous membrane. This remedy is also useful in case of irritable bowel syndrome accompanied by constipation.
✓ Flaxseed as an alternative to egg
Thanks to the mucilage they are rich in, flax seeds are also excellent substitutes in all those recipes where the egg is used as a binder. Those who are allergic to this food or have decided not to consume it by choice can try replacing this ingredient with a jelly made with a teaspoon or two of flax seeds combined with a little water.
✓ Flaxseed gel
Another very popular use of flax seeds is not for food but for aesthetics. You can make a flax seed hair gel by simply using these seeds (30 grams) boiled in water (200 ml) for about 5 minutes and left to rest until a real gel is created. At this point, just filter and store the gel in a glass jar. The product is to be used within a week.
✓ As a craving snack in a weight loss diet
Flax seeds can also be included in weight loss diets, as long as you do not exceed the quantities. In addition to regularizing the bowel and avoiding constipation or bloating, they can be a real hunger- break snack. It is possible, for example, to combine a tablespoon of flax seeds with a low-fat yogurt or a fresh seasonal fruit salad. In this way, flax seeds become our allies even in a weight loss diet.
✓ Use in the kitchen
In cooking, flax seeds can be used in many different ways. For example, we can add them whole to salads or bread or focaccia doughs. Chopped can be used in the form of flour to be added to baked goods or added to dishes, to give recipes a share of precious omega-3s.
How flax seeds are stored
Flax seeds should be stored in hermetically sealed containers, away from light and direct heat sources, in a cool and dry place. Once ground, they can be stored in the refrigerator, preferably in a glass jar, for up to 24 hours.
Flax seeds: contraindications
Flax seeds are contraindicated if you suffer from diverticulitis. These small foods, in fact, could get stuck in the intestinal loops, helping to inflame them. In the case of this pathology, the consumption of whole flax seeds is therefore not recommended, but they can be consumed (in moderation) if finely shredded. Precaution also in case of allergy to nickel as they contain moderate quantities. Finally, not recommended for children who have an immature and delicate gastrointestinal system.
Furthermore, in case of gastritis, flax seeds are not contraindicated but it is advisable to consume them chopped in order not to further irritate the gastric mucosa. Finally, we point out that there are no contraindications to the use of flax seeds in case of thyroid problems.
Flax seeds: sale and price
You can buy flax seeds in organic supermarkets, even online, but more and more often they are also available in traditional ones in the department dedicated to organic products. Since it is a natural remedy often recommended in case of constipation, it is easy to find flax seeds also available in herbalist’s shops and well-stocked pharmacies.
Depending on the quantity (250 or 500 grams) and the manufacturer, the price of flax seeds varies between about 4 and 6 USD. It is very important to check that they come from organic farming to be sure that they do not contain traces of pesticides.