Ground flaxseed can be used as a weight-loss tool because it keeps you full and may prevent overeating. Flaxseed also contains many health benefits that make these little seeds a nutritional powerhouse. In the eighth century, King Charlemagne passed a law that required his subjects to eat flaxseed because of its health benefits. Today scientists are finally beginning to back up those claims with research. The beauty of flaxseed is its versatility, allowing you to add it to a variety of foods.
Flaxseed is known for its healthy fat and high fiber content. Flaxseed also contains the minerals phosphorus, copper and magnesium, which are important for bone health. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contain 75 calories, 5.9 grams of fat, 3.8 grams of dietary fiber and 2.6 grams of protein. Ground flaxseed is the healthier option than whole flaxseed because whole seeds are more likely to pass through your intestinal tract without getting absorbed.
Fiber, Weight Loss and Health
A 2012 study at Harvard University found that participants who ate flaxseed lost 37 percent more weight than participants who did not. This phenomenon was likely due to flaxseed's high fiber and fat content. Fiber has been found to decrease intake by promoting feelings of fullness, and decreased intake has been shown to lead to weight loss. Flaxseed contains lignans, which are fiberlike antioxidant compounds that prevent inflammation and may decrease the risk for cancer and diabetes. Flaxseed also contains mucilaginous fiber that slows digestion and improves absorption of nutrients, thus promoting digestive health.
Fat, Weight Loss and Health
Flaxseed contains alpha linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that increases feelings of satiety and thus helps to reduce hunger and food intake. This healthy fat also helps to reduce inflammation and the "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, thus protecting against heart disease. Therefore, flaxseed is a healthy plant-based option for vegans and vegetarians, who do not eat fatty fish high in omega-3s, to include in their diets. Flaxseed is also gluten- and nut-free, so it can be used safely by individuals with these allergies.
How to Enjoy Flaxseed
You can find flaxseed at most grocery stores. If you can't find ground flaxseed, you can buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. Add 2 tablespoons of flaxseed to oatmeal or to Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast. Flaxseed can also be added to a smoothie or sprinkled on top of cooked vegetables for a nutty flavor. To add a nutritional punch, you can even add flaxseed to bran muffins or other baked products.