The benefits of eating flax seed are quite astounding, especially for such a tiny, benign looking thing!
In fact, including the flax seed in your diet could be one of the most important things you eat as a vegan (along with many others lol).
Why? Because it’s a little power house of health benefits, from omega 3 to lignans and more.
Read on to discover how you can enhance your life by including flax in one daily meal.
Flaxseeds are a great source of Omega-3, and if you’re vegan or vegetarian – then this is the best plant source of omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Table of Contents
First of All, How to Eat Flax Seed?
You can buy flaxseed oil and pour it over your salads or other food. While you will be getting the omega 3, you will miss out on the lignans and fibre.
As with the oil, you may choose to buy an omega-3 supplement in the form of flaxseed oil, but it will not have the additional health benefits of the lignans and fibre.
Sprinkle Flax on Top of Your Food
My personal favourite way to eat flax seed is by pouring it generously (like a mountain’s worth) on top of anything I’m eating!
If I have a fruit bowl in the morning, it will be piled high with ground flax seed.
Any meal can be sprinkled with flax, but it’s only necessary once a day so if I have it for breakfast then that’s it until the next day. It even goes well on vegan pancakes.
I love it!
Disguise Flax Seed in Your Food
If you don’t want to eat the flax seed on top of your food you can hide it in your meals:
- Add to your smoothie in the morning.
- Add to the plant milk before pouring onto your cereal in the morning.
- Bake it into your bread/cake/pancake recipe.
- Sprinkle it lightly into your salad dressing.
- Mix it into your vegan sauce, mayonnaise or yogurt.
- Make vegan energy balls or other snacks and include ground flax seed in the recipe.
Use as An Egg Replacer
Flax seed is great in cooking as a replacement for egg. If the recipe calls for one egg, use 1 tbs flax soaked in 3 tbs water. Allow to absorb the liquid before adding to your other ingredients.
It can be used in baking cakes, bread, biscuits or whatever you are making.
How Much Flaxseed a Day
The recommended amount of ground flaxseed is 1-2 tbs per day for an average, healthy adult.
Because it’s high in fibre, too much flaxseed can cause upset to your digestive system so there’s no need to overdo it.
At the top end of the spectrum, and according the the Flax Council of Canada, people who are at risk of developing heart disease, or who already suffer with a heart condition, should take a total of 5 tbs of ground flax seed daily.
5 tbs is considered to be the maximum amount of flax seed per day.
Remember to always take it with plenty of fluids as the flax will absorb the liquid around it.
Benefits of Flax seed
- Protein – a great source of plant based protein.
- Omega 3 – high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based fatty acid which cannot be created by the body.
- ALA has shown positive results in promoting heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering the incidence of strokes.
- Dietary Fibre – excellent for regulating the bowels and especially helpful for preventing constipation or for people who suffer from IBS or other gut related issues.
- May Improve cholesterol – studies show that people with high cholesterol who take 3 tablespoons of flaxseed a day can lower their cholesterol significantly.
- Lowers blood pressure – In tests, 30 g of flax seed, taken daily, lowered blood pressure after 3-6 months.
- Controls blood sugar levels – add 20g flax seed (2 tbs) to the diet for at least a month in order to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Lignans – high in oestrogen properties and antioxidants, both of which are thought to reduce the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Flax is the highest source of plant-food lignans.
Whole Vs Ground Flaxseed
Whole flaxseed retains the ALA omega 2 inside, so unless it’s completely chewed, you will not get all the benefits that you will from ground flax. Whole flax will pass through the digestive system intact.
You can buy ground flax but I prefer to buy it whole and grind it at home as it can start to lose its nutritional value if it’s been ground for a long time or exposed to light. Buy it whole and grind enough for a week and that way you know you’re getting the full benefits.
Whole flax is still a rich source of fibre to aid in digestion and regulate bowel movements. To eat them whole, soak in water for a few minutes before you eat them until they form a jelly which you can then put on your food (it’s very flavourless and non-intrusive).
You can find more detailed information on flax on the flax council of Canada page.
What I Include in My Vegan, Gluten Free Diet
One question I often get asked is what I take/eat to keep healthy and especially in the beginning when you’re first becoming vegan, it’s important to be aware of your health needs.
And after that, once you’ve adjusted, there are still healthy things you should consider including in your diet. The thing is, these healthy recommendations are for everyone. It just so happens that vegans, by default, are interested in being healthy.
For years as a vegan/vegetarian I didn’t pay attention to the benefits of eating flax seed, even though I knew how wonderful they were for horses!
Seriously, my horses got flax seed oil but I never ate it myself, or even considered eating it. But that’s long in the past and now I really wouldn’t be without my flax.
In fact, I’m addicted to its grainy flavour even though most people find it rather tasteless.
I eat it every day now. I buy it whole and grind it in a coffee machine so that it’s fresh when I use it.
It’s also an important part of a healthy plant based diet which can help beat menopausal symptoms.
For years I didn’t take any form of supplementation or pay attention. I just ‘thought’ I ate a healthy diet because it was rich in vegetables. I knew back then that I should take vitamin b12 but instead of buying it in tablet form, I (sporadically) ate foods which were supplemented with it.
I will never know for sure, because I didn’t get tested, but I believe that I was deficient in B12 for a long while, as I developed nerve damage in my legs and my short term memory was not very good and these are classic symptoms of b12 deficiency.
The realisation of this made me more conscientious about boosting my diet with necessary nutrients. I now take vitamin b12 which I buy on Amazon.
You may be interested to read about the astonishing effects of vitamin B12.
Other Things I Include in My Diet
- Seeds: flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, sesame, sunflower, hemp
- Nuts: walnuts, cashews, pine kernels, almonds
- Pulses & legumes: chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils
- Fruit & Veggies
- Vitamin B12
- Multi vitamin including a good source of B-complex
- Sometimes magnesium
- Sometimes vitamin C
- Garlic, turmeric, hibiscus
Have you heard about the incredible health benefits of hibiscus? It’s a great flower that makes a tea which I absolutely love. I drink it hot and cold, almost every day.
I absolutely recommend you go out and buy yourself a coffee grinder, a few packets of whole flax seed and start adding it to your daily food. It goes well on almost anything. Take a look at this mouth watering grilled summer vegetable salad for example.
Simply grind up a packet (or less) of the seed and store it in a jar with a tightly fitting lid in a dark place to use whenever you want, morning, lunch or dinner.
So there you have it, the benefits of eating flax seed! Please like, share or leave a comment. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @loveveganliving.