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Flax Seeds: Uses, Nutrition, Health Benefits & Side Effects

Flax seeds

Flax seeds, often touted as a nutritional powerhouse, have been gaining widespread recognition in the world of health and wellness. Packed with essential nutrients, fibre, and beneficial fatty acids, these tiny seeds offer a plethora of health benefits.

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the wonders of flax seeds, exploring their nutritional value, versatile uses, and how they can become a valuable addition to your daily diet.

What is Flaxseed?

Flaxseed, also recognized as flax or linseed, constitutes the seeds of the flax plant. Available in hues spanning reddish brown to light yellow (often called golden flaxseed), it can be ingested as whole seeds, ground powder, or flaxseed oil.

What is the Nutritional Profile of Flax Seeds?

Flaxseeds contain 534 calories in every 3.5 ounces (100 grams), equivalent to 55 calories per tablespoon (10 grams) of whole seeds.

Their composition comprises 42% fat, 29% carbohydrates, and 18% protein.

A single tablespoon (10 grams) of whole flax seeds provides the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 55
  • Water content: 7%
  • Protein: 1.9 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 0.2 grams
  • Dietary fibre: 2.8 grams
  • Fat: 4.3 grams

Carbs and Fibre

Flax seeds are incredibly rich in fibre, with 95% of their 29% carb content being fibre.

Two tablespoons of flax seeds (20 grams) offer 6 grams of fibre, meeting 15–25% of the daily fibre intake for men and women.

This fibre is a blend of soluble fibre (20–40%) for blood sugar and cholesterol control, and insoluble fibre (60–80%) aiding in digestion.

Flax seeds, when mixed with water, form a thick mucilage, acting as a natural laxative, promoting regularity, preventing constipation, and lowering the risk of diabetes.


Flax seeds, with 18% protein, have a soybean-like amino acid profile but lack lysine, making them incomplete protein. Rich in heart and immune-boosting arginine and glutamine.


Flax seeds are rich in fat, with 1 tablespoon containing 4.3 grams, consisting of 73% polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-6 and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) omega-3. ALA is essential and must be obtained from food as the body can’t produce it.

Flaxseed oil has the highest ALA content, followed by milled seeds, while whole seeds have the least. Flax seeds have a favourable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, linked to lower chronic disease risk, but they contain less omega-3 than fish oils. Converting ALA to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is often inefficient.

Solin, a yellow variety of flax seeds, is less nutritious with a different oil profile and low omega-3 content.

You Can Also Read: Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

What Vitamins, Minerals and Macronutrients Are in Flax Seeds?

Flax seeds serve as a valuable nutritional resource as they provide numerous vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): Essential for metabolism and nerve function.
  • Copper: Crucial for growth, development, and bodily functions.
  • Molybdenum: Abundant in seeds, grains, and legumes, serving as an essential trace mineral.
  • Magnesium: Occurs in high amounts in grains, seeds, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, playing a vital role in the body.
  • Phosphorus: Typically found in protein-rich foods, contributing to bone health and tissue maintenance.

Flax seeds are also rich in numerous beneficial plant components, like:

  • Antioxidants: p-Coumaric acid and Ferulic acid, which combat oxidative stress.
  • Cyanogenic Glycosides: Can form thiocyanates, potentially affecting thyroid function.
  • Phytosterols: Similar to cholesterol, aiding in cholesterol reduction.
  • Lignans: Abundant in flax seeds, serving as potent antioxidants and phytoestrogens.

The multiple health benefits of lignans are:

  • Phytoestrogens: Mimic oestrogen, reducing heart disease and metabolic syndrome risk.
  • Cardiovascular support: Lower fat and glucose levels in the blood.
  • Blood pressure regulation: Helps reduce blood pressure.
  • Arterial health: Combats oxidative stress and inflammation in arteries.
  • Cancer inhibition: Slows the growth of hormone-sensitive cancers like breast, uterus, and prostate cancer.

How Can Flax Seeds Be Used in Cooking and Baking? 

Flax seeds offer versatility in cooking and baking, providing both flavour and nutrition. Here’s how they can be used:

  • Flaxseed meal: Substitute for eggs by mixing 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water.
  • Whole flax seeds: Sprinkle on baked goods for a nutty, crunchy topping.
  • Flaxseed oil: Ideal for salad dressings, drizzling on vegetables, or blending into smoothies.
  • Smoothies and cereal: Add ground flax seeds for nutrition and texture.
  • Baking: Replace some flour with ground flax seeds (up to 25%) in muffins, pancakes, and bread.
  • Energy bars: Boost nutritional value and binding properties in homemade bars.
  • Thickener: Use flaxseed to naturally thicken soups, stews, and sauces.

Store flax seeds properly to maintain freshness and nutritional benefits. Grinding them just before use is recommended. Incorporating flax seeds into your meals enhances fibre and omega-3 intake.

What is the Impact of Flax Seeds on Heart Health, Digestion, and Cholesterol Levels?

Flax seeds offer various health benefits across heart health, digestion, and cholesterol levels:

Heart Health

  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (ALA) that reduce inflammation.
  • May reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure.


  • High in dietary fibre, aiding bowel regularity.
  • Mucilage content soothes the digestive tract and helps with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Reduces the risk of diverticulitis.

Cholesterol Levels

  • Potentially lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol.
  • The soluble fibre and lignans contribute to this effect.

Ground flax seeds aid digestion. Consult a healthcare professional if you have health conditions or take medications. Include them in a balanced diet for health benefits.

Do Flax Seeds Help in Reducing Weight? 

Flax seeds, rich in soluble fibre, aid weight loss by reducing hunger and cravings.

Controlled studies found that incorporating flax seeds into diets helped overweight individuals shed an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kg).

Longer studies and daily consumption of over 30 grams showed even more significant weight loss effects.

You Can Also Read: Top High Protein Foods

How Can You Consume Flax Seeds Safely?

Consuming flax seeds safely involves several key considerations for their high fibre and omega-3 fatty acid content:

Purchasing and Storage

  • Choose high-quality, raw flax seeds from a reputable source.
  • Grind seeds just before consumption for better nutrient absorption.
  • Store ground flax seeds in the fridge or freezer to prevent rancidity.
  • Whole flax seeds can be stored in a cool, dark place for a longer shelf life.

Intake and Hydration

  • Start modest, 1-2 tablespoons daily, and work your way up.
  • Incorporate ground flax seeds into your diet by adding them to various foods.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent digestive discomfort.

Digestive Considerations

  • Do not consume flax seeds whole to avoid potential digestive issues.
  • Watch for allergic reactions and stop using if you have any negative side effects.

Nutritional Awareness

  • Because of their high-calorie density, pay attention to portion amounts.
  • Adjust consumption to meet your dietary and nutritional needs.


  • Some individuals prefer consuming flax seeds earlier in the day to avoid nighttime discomfort.

Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific dietary concerns or medical conditions before adding flax seeds to your diet.


Flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with numerous health benefits. Incorporating them into your diet can enhance your overall well-being and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to Consult a Dietitian, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital.


What Are the Health Benefits of Flax Seeds?

Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants, supporting heart health, digestion, and skin.

How Should I Consume Flax Seeds for Maximum Benefits?

Ground flax seeds are more digestible; sprinkle on yoghurt, in smoothies, or use as an egg substitute in baking.

Are Flax Seeds Safe for Everyone to Eat?

Consult a doctor if you have allergies, are pregnant, or taking certain medications to ensure safety.

Can Flax Seeds Help With Weight Loss?

Yes, the fibre content can promote feelings of fullness, aiding weight management when part of a balanced diet.

How Should I Store Flax Seeds to Keep Them Fresh?

Store flax seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity due to their high oil content.

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