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Nutritional profile for flaxseed
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 tbsp)
|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%)|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Flaxseeds are rich in:
Lignans are one of the major classes of phytoestrogens. They are estrogen-like chemical compounds with antioxidant qualities, able to scavenge free radicals in the body. Flaxseed is considered to be one of the best sources of lignans (0.3 g per 100g). A study, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, concluded that "lignan-rich diets may be beneficial, particularly if consumed for life."2
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.
Flaxseed is rich in both soluble fiber (dissolves in water) and insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water). According to Mayo Clinic3, "soluble fiber dissolves with water and creates a gel-like substance that helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels." Whereas insoluble fiber "absorbs water, which adds bulk to your digestive tract and helps to move things through quickly."
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are considered to be "good fats" that are beneficial for the heart. These essential acids are only obtainable by eating the right foods; the human body is not able to produce them.
Potential side effects of consuming flaxseed
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 flaxseed consumption include:
If you've enjoyed reading about the potential health benefits of flaxseed, why not take a look at our collection of articles about other healthy foods.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Reviewed by Megan Ware, RDN, LD