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How flaxseed helps you get healthier (and lose weight)

In this article you can read about the effect of linseed on your digestion, bowel movements, cholesterol, blood sugar, skin, hair and nails. You’ll also discover whether linseed accelerates (or counteracts) weight loss.

Linseed benefitsNowadays linseed can be found in almost all nature shops and large supermarkets. Read this article and decide for yourself if you want to add linseed to your diet. At the end of this article you will find 6 ways to eat more flaxseed, and you will get a tip to improve your skin and hair with flaxseed.

What is flaxseed? (linseed)

Linseed is a brown, flat seed from the flax plant called Linum usitatisimum [4].
It is one of the oldest fibre crops in the world and one of the world’s first superfoods. It is most commonly produced in Canada, but countries such as China, Germany, USA, Belgium, India and the Netherlands also produce this nutritious crop.
Flaxseed is a source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and essential omega 3 fatty acids. This makes it a good addition to your diet.

The nutritional value of linseed

One tablespoon of 10 grams of flaxseed contains the following nutritional value:
  1. 55 calories
  2. 0.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which
  3. – 0.2 grams of sugars
  4. 2 grams of protein
  5. 4 grams fat
  6. 2.8 grams of fibre

Vitamins and Minerals:

  1. Vitamins and minerals:
  2. Vitamin B1: 11% RDA
  3. Vitamin B2: 1% RDA
  4. Vitamin B3: 2% RDA
  5. Vitamin B6: 2% RDA
  6. Vitamin B11 (folic acid): 2% RDA
  7. Calcium: 3% RDA
  8. Magnesium: 10% RDA
  9. Potassium: 2% RDA
  10. Zinc: 3% RDA
  11. Manganese: 13% RDA
  12. Iron: 3% RDA
In addition to these vitamins and minerals, flaxseed also contains small amounts of copper, selenium, phosphorus and molybdenum. Flaxseed is also one of the richest sources of the important omega 3 fatty acid ALA, also called alpha-linolenic acid.
ALA is an essential fatty acid. This means that the body cannot produce it itself and that we have to get it through our diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for our cell membranes, brain, immune system and hormone system, and play a role in the prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Besides ALA there are other essential fatty acids: the essential fish fatty acids EPA and DHA. Although flaxseed does not contain EPA and DHA, it is possible that ALA from flaxseed is converted into these substances in the body. Approximately 20% of ALA can be converted into EPA and 0.5% can be converted into DHA. This makes linseed less effective as a source of EPA and DHA than fresh fish, crustaceans and shellfish.
Unfortunately, flaxseed also contains cyanogenic substances that are converted in the human body into the poison cyanide. For this reason it is recommended to use less than 45 grams of flaxseed per day to prevent respiratory problems.

The health benefits of linseed:

Promotes digestion and bowel movements:

The soluble and insoluble fibres in linseed have a beneficial effect on digestion and stools. These fibres support the colon during detoxification (by good intestinal bacteria) and give a full feeling, which will reduce the desire for sugar. The fatty acid ALA from flaxseed can help protect the lining of the digestive tract. Because it improves bowel movement through linseed, it can also prevent clogging.

Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease:

Due to the high content of omega 3 fatty acids, linseed promotes the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. This reduces the risk of various chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Lowers cholesterol:

The use of linseed has a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, especially in men. The unsaturated fats in linseed cause the good HDL cholesterol to increase and the bad LDL cholesterol to decrease. The soluble fibres in flaxseed also contribute to a reduction in bad cholesterol.

Prevents hot flashes:

Research shows that the consumption of linseed can reduce the risk of hot flushes in menopausal women.

Improves blood sugar balance:

There are strong indications that daily consumption of flaxseed improves glycemic control in men and women with severe obesity in the early stages of diabetes. This is positive, as blood sugar levels rise less rapidly as a result.

Linseed is good for skin, hair and nails:

ALA in flaxseed can reduce dryness and flaking of skin and hair due to the essential fats and B vitamins. It can also reduce symptoms of acne, rosacea (bright red discoloration on the face) and eczema.

Supports weight loss:

Flaxseed is full of fibres, which make you feel satiated for longer. Because of this, you will eat less, so you will get fewer calories. This can lead to weight loss.

Flaxseed is rich in antioxidants:

Antioxidants offer the body protection against harmful substances. These harmful substances play a role in ageing processes and in cell and tissue damage.
The polyphenols in linseed have an anti-inflammatory effect and help with colds and flu.

Linseed is gluten-free:

Because linseed is gluten-free, it is suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten hypersensitivity.

How and for what can you use linseed?

Linseed is for sale in various forms: as whole seeds, ground seeds or as oil. You can use the different forms of linseed in various ways and in various dishes. For example, you can add it to your diet by incorporating it in soups, salads, sandwiches, casseroles or bread.

1. Eat linseed with your breakfast: Get your metabolism going by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of linseed to your breakfast. Mix it with your oatmeal or yoghurt, for example. Flaxseed contains a lot of fibre and also provides you with the energy you need. Because the energy is released slowly, you can benefit from it for a long time.

2. Add it to a smoothie: Add 1 tablespoon of linseed to a smoothie. With smoothies you can vary endlessly, they are easy to carry and they contribute to the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables.
3. Mix it with soups and stews: Add linseed to a soup or stew at the last minute. You can make a large quantity of soups and stews, because it will easily stay good for a few days.
4. Add it to baking dishes: Flaxseed is a perfect complement to baking dishes. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons (ground) of linseed through the cake, muffin or bread mix and immediately create a healthier variant. Pancakes can also be enriched with linseed, allowing children (and adults) to get more healthy nutrients.
5. Use linseed as breadcrumbs: Bread your chicken or fish with linseed. This gives you nutritious chicken schnitzels or fish sticks.

 

6. Add roasted linseed to salads, meat, dressings and soups: Adding roasted linseed gives your dish a pleasant crispy taste sensation. Experiment and experience for yourself in which dish the product comes into its own.
7. Use flaxseed oil for skin and hair: Mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with essential oils and use as a natural (liquid) hair and skin cream.

Some tips:

Keep in mind broken linseed digests better than whole linseed. If you have not eaten linseed before, it is advisable to start with broken linseed.
Flaxseed has an impressive nutritional value and has a favourable ratio between omega 3 and omega 6. It is also rich in fibre, healthy fats and vitamins and minerals such as B1, B11, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium and selenium. Flaxseed is rich in antioxidants that can slow down the ageing process.
In addition, flaxseed (in combination with a healthy diet) can have a beneficial effect on you:
  • Cholesterol
  • Digestion
  • Blood sugar level
  • Weight
  • Skin and hair
Linseed can help you lose weight, because it makes you feel satiated (which probably makes you eat less). That’s why linseed is on the shopping list with healthy food. If you want to lose weight in a healthy and natural way, eat only foods on the healthy shopping list and lose 2 kilos a week (without feeling hungry or having to exercise).
Further reading:


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