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Flaxseeds (also called linseeds) are a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA or omega-3.
The seeds come from flax, one of the the oldest fiber crops in the world - known to have been cultivated in ancient Egypt and China.
It is not only a source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research has found evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
King Charlemagne of the 8th century believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he demanded his loyal subjects eat the seeds and passed laws to make sure of it.
The Latin name for flax is Linum usitatissimum, which means "the most useful.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It contains a nutritional profile on flaxseed, numerous health benefits associated with its consumption, as well as side effects.
To reap the most benefits from flaxseeds, they should be bought in ground form or ground before consumption, as whole flaxseeds can sometimes pass through the digestive tract undigested.
There are two main types of flaxseed: golden flaxseed and brown flaxseed. Their nutritional profiles are very similar and both contain the same number of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
The American Nutrition Association highlighted the importance of this "neglected food", stating that flaxseed is not only "an excellent source of two fatty acids that are essential for human health - linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid," but also "an excellent source of fiber and a good source of minerals and vitamins."1
Flaxseed is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium
Nutritional value of Flaxseed per 20 g (2 tbps)
|Energy - 54.7 kcal (DV = 3%)||Carbohydrates - 3.0 g (DV = 1%)|
|Sugars - 0.2 g||Dietary fiber - 2.8 g (DV = 11%)|
|Fat - 4.3 g (DV = 7%)||Saturated fat - 0.4 g (DV = 2%)|
|Monounsaturated fat - 0.8 g||Polyunsaturated fat - 2.9 g|
|Protein - 1.9 g (DV = 4%)||Thiamine (vit B1) - 0.2mg (DV = 11%)|
|Riboflavin 0.0mg||Niacin (vit. B3) - 0.3mg (DV = 2%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5) - 0.1mg (DV = 1%)||Vitamin B6 - 0.0 mg|
|Folate - 8.9 mcg (DV = 2%)||Vitamin C - 0.1 mg (DV = 0%)|
|Calcium - 26.1mg (DV = 3%)||Iron - 0.6mg (DV = 3%)|
|Magnesium - 40.2 mg (DV = 10%)||Phosphorus - 65.8mg (DV = 7%)|
|Potassium - 83.3 mg (DV = 2%)||Zinc - 0.4mg (DV = 3%)|
Flaxseeds are rich in:
The therapeutic and beneficial properties of consuming flaxseed are not yet completely understood, and many claims still lack "high-quality" studies to back them up.
However, emerging research suggests that flaxseed might indeed be the wonder food many people claim it to be.
The health benefits associated with flaxseed include:
Even though research on the safety of taking flaxseed during pregnancy is scarce, pregnant women should stay on the safe side and avoid consuming flaxseed because of its estrogen-like properties which doctors believe may affect pregnancy outcome. In addition, people suffering from a bowel obstruction should avoid flaxseed too (because of its high level of fiber), according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.5
Side effects associated with the consumption of flaxseed, include:
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
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Nordqvist, Joseph. "What is flaxseed? What are the benefits of flaxseed?." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 16 Jul. 2013. Web.
11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263405>
Nordqvist, J. (2013, July 16). "What is flaxseed? What are the benefits of flaxseed?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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