Flax is a food and fiber crop that came from Southern Europe and Asia. Flaxseeds are the golden yellow to reddish brown seeds of flax. These seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are similar to the hormone estrogen. The seeds also contain soluble fiber and oil. Flaxseed oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed has been eaten as a food or used as a medicine since 5000 BC.
Flaxseed is used for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, breast pain (mastalgia), and swelling (inflammation) of the kidneys in people with lupus. It is also used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.
Is a Form of:
Fiber crop native to Southern Europe and Asia
Also Known As:
Alasi, Aliviraaii, Brown Flaxseed, Brown-Seeded Flax, Common Flax, Echter Lein
How Does It Work?
Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The fiber in flaxseed is found primarily in the seed coat. Taken before a meal, flaxseed fiber seems to make people feel less hungry, so that they might eat less food. Researchers believe this fiber binds with cholesterol in the intestine and prevents it from being absorbed. Flaxseed also seems to make platelets, the blood cells involved in clotting, less sticky. Overall, flaxseed’s effects on cholesterol and blood clotting may lower the risk of “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
Flaxseed is sometimes tried for cancer because it is broken down by the body into chemicals called “lignans.” Lignans are similar to the female hormone estrogen - so similar, in fact, that they compete with estrogen for a part in certain chemical reactions. As a result, natural estrogens seem to become less powerful in the body. Some researchers believe that lignans may be able to slow down the progress of certain breast cancers and other types of cancers that need estrogen to thrive.
For systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), flaxseed is thought to improve kidney function by decreasing the thickness of blood, reducing cholesterol levels, and reducing swelling.
- Diabetes. Taking flaxseed might improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. Benefits seem to be greatest with whole flaxseed and when used for at least 12 weeks. Flaxseed also seems to work best in people with type 2 diabetes that is not well controlled.
- High cholesterol. Taking flaxseed by mouth seems to help reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. It seems to work the best in people with high cholesterol. It might also work for people with normal cholesterol levels. It's unclear if taking flaxseed improves triglyceride levels. Taking flaxseed doesn't seem to improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol levels.
- High blood pressure. Taking flaxseed may slightly reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. But it's unclear which form or dose of flaxseed works best.
- Breast pain (mastalgia). Eating a flaxseed muffin daily for 3 months or taking flaxseed powder daily for 2 months seems to reduce breast pain that occurs at the start of the menstrual cycle.
- Obesity. Flaxseed may help reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist size in adults who are overweight or obese. Taking at least 30 grams of flaxseed per day for at least 12 weeks seems to work best.
- Swelling (inflammation) of the kidneys in people with lupus. Taking whole or ground flaxseed by mouth seems to improve kidney function in people with SLE.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For diabetes: 10-60 grams of whole or ground flaxseed have been taken daily for up to 48 weeks.
- For high cholesterol: Supplements or products containing 15-40 grams of ground flaxseed have been taken daily for 1 to 3 months. Bread containing 15-50 grams of ground flaxseed have been taken daily for 4 weeks to 3 months. Muffins containing 25-40 grams of ground flaxseed or 50 grams of flaxseed meal have been taken daily for 3 weeks to one year. Also, buns, snack bars, bagels, pasta, or tea biscuits containing 30 grams of ground flaxseed have been taken daily for one year. 30 grams of a specific powdered flaxseed product (Alena, Enreco, Manitowoc, WI) have been sprinkled into foods or drinks daily for 6 months. A specific flaxseed lignan extract (BeneFlax, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, IL) has been taken daily for 6 weeks to 6 months. A 600 mg dose of another specific flaxseed lignan extract (Flax Essence, Jarrow Formulas Inc., Los Angeles, CA) has been taken three times daily for 12 weeks.
- For high blood pressure: 30 grams of milled flaxseed has been added to foods such as bagels, muffins, bars, buns, pasta, and tea biscuits taken daily for 6 months. Also, taking flaxseed powder 28-60 grams daily for up to 12 months has been used.
- For breast pain (mastalgia): 25 grams of flaxseed powder has been taken daily for 2 months. Also, a muffin containing 25 grams of flaxseed has been eaten daily for 3 months.
- For swelling (inflammation) of the kidneys in people with lupus: 15-45 grams of whole flaxseed has been taken daily in one to three divided doses for up to one year. Also, 30 grams of ground flaxseed has been taken daily for up to one year.
Flaxseed Supplements Frequently Asked Questions
Can flaxseed increase estrogen levels?
Flaxseed and phytoestrogens
Flaxseed is the richest dietary source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. A phytoestrogen is a plant nutrient that is somewhat similar to the female hormone estrogen. Due to this similarity, lignans may have estrogenic and/or anti-estrogenic effects in the body.
What are the side effects of flaxseed?
Side effects of flaxseed include:
- allergic reactions.
- intestinal obstruction.
- stomach ache.
Are flaxseed pills effective?
Also, some research shows that consuming ground flaxseed reduces menopausal symptoms similarly to hormone therapy. But other studies show that it does not work any better than taking a sugar pill. The difference in effectiveness might be due to the dose of flaxseed used.
How much flaxseed should I take daily?
How Much Do You Need? The health benefits noted in the studies above were observed with just 1 tablespoon (10 grams) of ground flax seeds per day. However, it's recommended to keep serving sizes to less than 5 tablespoons (50 grams) of flax seeds per day. Summary: Ground flax seeds provide the greatest health benefits.
Is flaxseed good for females?
Interestingly, flax seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods ( 5 ). Observational studies show that those who eat flax seeds have a lower risk of breast cancer, particularly postmenopausal women ( 13 ). ... They may help in preventing breast and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer.
How does flaxseed balance hormones?
Healthy fats are the building blocks for our hormones! Consuming flaxseed is a great way to give your body the raw materials it needs for proper hormone production. In addition, flaxseed may help to reduce inflammation by providing the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
What happens if I eat flax seeds everyday?
Though tiny, they are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, lignans and fiber, all of which have been shown to have many potential health benefits. They can be used to improve digestive health, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer and may benefit people with diabetes.
Can flaxseed increase breast size?
Chew flax seeds OR add flax seed powder to your food. Nuts have a rich source of monounsaturated fats that are essential for building breast tissue. Soybean is rich in phytoestrogens which is a hormone that is responsible for big boobs. It also prevents free radicals that cause cancer.
Can flaxseed cause weight gain?
Inflammation can induce weight gain as it can increase oxidative stress. Flaxseeds are rich in proteins. So, when you consume a teaspoon of flaxseeds, along with dietary fiber, the protein content suppresses your appetite. This prevents you from overeating, thereby helping you in losing weight.
Can flaxseed make you poop?
Not only did flaxseeds speed up intestinal transit, but they also increased stool frequency and stool weight in both normal and constipated mice ( 13 ). Another animal study showed that flaxseed can help treat both constipation and diarrhea.
Does flaxseed stop periods?
As per a report, lignans present in flaxseeds help in balancing the hormones. The report also mentions that consuming flaxseed supplements lowered the levels of androgen in PCOS patients. PCOS is a medical condition that can cause irregular periods.
Why flaxseed is bad for you?
There is some concern that taking large amounts of flaxseed could block the intestines due to the bulk-forming laxative effects of flaxseed. Flaxseed should be taken with plenty of water to prevent this from happening. Taking flaxseed extracts that contain lignans in concentrated form is POSSIBLY SAFE.
Which is better chia or flax seeds?
Flax seeds also contain significantly more manganese, copper and potassium. Chia seeds contain slightly fewer calories and more fiber. They also contain 1.5–2 times more of the bone-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus, as well as slightly more iron. Summary: Both seeds are very nutritious.
Is flaxseed bad for men?
Flaxseed is packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber and various important vitamins and minerals. In addition, some research shows that it may cause a decrease in testosterone levels. ... Summary Flaxseed is high in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which may be associated with reduced testosterone levels.
Is flaxseed good for hair?
Rich In Vitamin E: Flaxseeds are rich in vitamin E, which is great for both skin and hair health. The nutrient promotes the health of the scalp by reducing free radical damage. It helps improve circulation in the head, thus promoting hair growth and slowing down hair breakage.
Does flaxseed decrease breast size?
Flax seed — along with fish like salmon and tuna — is high in omega-3 fatty acids. It can help to regulate estrogen levels and ultimately decrease breast size. It's also known for improving your digestive processes. You can add flax seed to your foods or drink it with water.
When should I eat flax seeds?
Tips for including flaxseed in your diet: Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your hot or cold breakfast cereal. Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to mayonnaise or mustard when making a sandwich. Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into an 8-ounce container of yogurt.
Does flaxseed help with menopause symptoms?
Ground flaxseed -- but not flaxseed oil -- may also help with menopausal symptoms. One study showed that 40 grams per day may be similar to hormone therapy for improving mild menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. ... Ground flaxseed may also ease constipation.
How can I use flax seeds for weight loss?
Combine the ground flax seed with the hot water and stir well. Add the lemon wedge to your glass and give it a squeeze for some flavor and a boost of vitamin C. You can drink this once per day while you're trying to lose weight.
Can we eat flax seeds directly?
Flax seeds are safe for most people when consumed in moderate amounts. But there are some things to keep in mind before you take flax seeds to lose weight. Don't consume raw or unripe flax seeds. Not only will they cause indigestion, they may also contain toxic compounds.
Can eating flax seeds be harmful?
Flaxseed is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth. Adding flaxseed to the diet might increase the number of bowel movements each day. It might also cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, stomachache, and nausea.