Flaxseed is rich in fibers, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, and it offers the body health benefits such as improved digestive health and constipation relief.
Many studies support the use of flaxseeds in the management of certain medical conditions, whereas others refute these claims. Some of the benefits of flaxseeds that do not have sufficient evidence include:
How do you consume flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds can come in the following forms:
- Whole flaxseed
- Ground flaxseed
- Flaxseed oil
Whole flaxseeds are difficult for the body to digest, since they may pass through the intestine undigested, which means you won’t get any nutrition or health benefits from them. If you have whole flaxseeds, it’s best if you grind them yourself with a coffee grinder or blend them up in smoothies.
Ground flaxseeds are best used when you add them to your recipes, such as sprinkling them over your hot or cold breakfast cereal or yogurt or adding them to your favorite muffin recipe. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains around 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
Flaxseed oil is great for drizzling over salads or using for cooking. While flaxseed oil contains omega-3s, it does not have fiber and lignans found in the rest of the seed.
Who shouldn’t consume flaxseeds?
Most people do not face any adverse reactions to flaxseeds, however, people with the following conditions should avoid taking them:
Are flaxseeds completely safe?
Flaxseeds are safe for most people and offer nutritional health benefits. Yet, since they have high fiber content, they might cause some side effects, such as:
Flaxseeds, when taken in excess quantities, may block the intestines. It is important to take them with plenty of water to prevent such a blockage.
Taking raw or unripe flaxseeds is unsafe and can be poisonous.
What are the precautions to follow while using flaxseeds?
Flaxseed consumption requires you to follow certain precautions, such as:
- Do not take them if you have a bleeding disorder
- Monitor your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes
- Avoid using flaxseeds if you have a digestive tract obstruction
- Limit your use of flaxseed if you have a hormone-sensitive condition
- Always use flaxseeds carefully if you have extremely high or low blood pressure
As a word of caution, always consult your physician before taking any supplements.
Medically Reviewed on 9/2/2021
Zeratsky K. Does Ground Flaxseed Have More Health Benefits Than Whole Flaxseed? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354
Cleveland Clinic. Flaxseed: Little Seed, Big Benefits. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/flaxseed-little-seed-big-benefits/