Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Because of its link to good health, flax is fast becoming a new food in many diets. Bakers and commercial food companies use flax as a unique ingredient in everything from yeast breads, to bagels and cookie mixes. Not only do muffins and breads baked with flax taste great, but studies also find that these foods provide health benefits.

Flax: an excellent source of 0mega-3 and fiber

Flax is an ideal functional food ingredient that adds flavor and nutrition to foods. Consumers like the mild, nutty flavor of flax. While it is generally known that flax enriches foods through generous amounts of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic (ALA), the high fiber content of flax is less known. Yet, whole and milled flax provide all the dietary fiber of whole grain.

Flax - Rich in omega-3 content

Because more than half the oil (57%) in flax is the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, flax is an excellent source of this essential fatty acid. In fact, flax contains the most ALA of all the plant seeds and oils in the North American diet.

Flax - Rich in fiber content

Whole seed and milled flax also provide ample dietary fiber. Whole seed and milled flax contain all the fiber of whole grains - both insoluble and soluble fiber (7-10% and 16-19%, respectively). One cup (180 g) of whole flax seed contains 50 g of total dietary fiber, and one cup of milled flax (130 g) contains 36 g. (In flax oil, the fiber is stripped away during the oil extraction process.) flax An Excellent Source of Omega-3 and Fiber

Flax - Benefits of cardiovascular health

Many studies link flax nutrients and cardiovascular health. For example, findings of large population studies, such as the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Family Heart Study, support a specific effect of ALA in preventing heart disease. ALA protects against heart disease and stroke by:

  • Helping to reduce blood lipids
  • Enhancing the elasticity of blood vessels
  • Having an anti-inflammatory effect

Flax - Other health benefits

Flax contributes to health in other ways. Foods rich in insoluble fiber, like flax, also improve laxation. Flax shortens the transit time of food through the digestive system and can, therefore, be a boon to those who suffer from constipation. Adding milled flax to the diets of elderly residents in an institutional setting has been found to increase the frequency of bowel movements, reducing the residents' reliance on laxatives.