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Linum usitatissimum

What are the health benefits of flaxseed?

Flaxseed also known as linseed, is a small seed that comes from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). It has gained popularity as a health food due to its nutritional composition and numerous potential health benefits. We discuss some key elements of why the small and mighty flaxseed is renowned for being super healthy!

Nutritional profile of flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in essential nutrients (which must be obtained through the diet).

It is a really great go-to for dietary fibre, including soluble and insoluble fibre, which can promote digestive health and help you have a good number of bowel movements per day.

Flaxseed is also a good source of plant-based protein, healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, B vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, manganese and phosphorus[I].

Menopausal symptoms and flaxseed

Phytoestrogens have been studied for their potential role in hormonal balance and menopausal symptoms. Studies have reported benefits for symptoms such as (hot flashes, mood disturbances, and vaginal dryness)[iii].

Omega-3 fatty acids

Flaxseed is one of the richest plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fats that are important for overall health. They play a very important role in reducing inflammation, supporting heart health, whilst promoting proper brain function.

However, it's important to note flaxseed may not be as effective as consuming marine sources of omega-3s (this includes vegan sources too) – see our omega 3 article here.

Lignans and phytoestrogens

Flaxseed contains high levels of lignans, which are plant compounds with antioxidant properties[ii]. Lignans have been associated with potential health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain cancers (such as breast and prostate cancer) and improving cardiovascular health. Flaxseed is also a source of phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can mimic oestrogen in the body.

Digestive health

The soluble fibre content in flaxseed can not only help promote regular bowel movements and relieve constipation, it can also lead to a feeling of fullness and, as such, aid in weight management. However, it's important to consume moderate amounts of flaxseed per day and with an adequate amount of water or other fluids to prevent digestive discomfort and formation of blockages in the bowel[iv].

How to incorporate flaxseed in the diet

Flaxseed is available in whole seed, ground seed and oil. It is believed that the ground form is more easily digestible and allows for better absorption of nutrients. It is also super easy to add ground flaxseed to smoothies, yogurt, oats, or sprinkle it on top of salads or cooked meals. Flaxseed oil can be used in your favourite salad dressings too.

If you are buying flaxseed oil, make sure it is of a great quality and stored in a glass bottle, preferably dark coloured glass, as this protects the oil from damage. It's also important to store flaxseed properly, as the high oil content makes it prone to spoilage. Ground flaxseed should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

Precautions and considerations when taking flaxseed

Flaxseed is generally safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts. However, it is advisable to start with small quantities, especially if you are not used to consuming high-fibre foods, as it may cause digestive upsets or bloating.

If you have any specific health concerns or conditions, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional - please talk to us today!

Recommended For

Menopause , Perimenopause , Hot Flushes / Hot Flashes , Night Sweats , Constipation , Irritable Bowel Syndrome , Dry Skin , Skin Support , Eczema

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