Flaxseed is popular because it has been compared to Botox. A dietician weighs the benefits

By | December 22, 2023

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You may have noticed that flaxseed has been getting more attention lately. You can thank TikTok for shining the light on the mighty seed. Users claim that flaxseed gel applied to the face is “the same as Botox” (more on that later).

But social media trends aside, flaxseed has long been a food dietitians encourage as part of a healthy diet. And whether or not there’s a reason for the latest buzzy trend, there are many reasons why they should be part of your daily diet.

First, the tiny seeds contain many beneficial nutrients in a small package. With healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, flaxseeds offer a host of health benefits. They also contain an estrogen-like compound called lignans, which positively affects female hormones. Plus, flaxseeds add a nutty and crunchy flavor to any meal, with an extra nutritional boost.

Learn the nutrition facts of flax seeds, the health benefits of eating these small but mighty seeds, and easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Flaxseed Nutrition Facts

Two tablespoons of flaxseed (the recommended serving size on most packages) contains:

  • 110 calories

  • 4 grams of protein

  • 9 grams of fat

  • 6 grams of carbohydrates

  • 6 grams of fiber (21% Daily Value (DV))

  • 80 milligrams of magnesium (19% RDA)

  • 6 µg selenium (11% RDI)

  • 0.4 milligram thiamine (33% RDI)

Flaxseed benefits

Flaxseed is small, but its nutritional profile is robust. A 2019 review states that the ‘good’ unsaturated omega-3 fats in flaxseeds act as an antioxidant and are the reason for the seeds’ health. The most promising research is in the field of cardiovascular disease and cancer treatment.

Specifically, a meta-analysis of more than 30 studies found that supplementing the diet with various flaxseed products is an effective way to lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. In another study, people with high cholesterol or high triglycerides were supplemented with 30 grams (about ¼ cup) of flaxseed powder for 3 months. At the end of the 3-month period, participants had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides and higher HDL (good) cholesterol. The authors attribute these results to the healthy fats in flaxseed, as well as dietary lignans, a class of phytoestrogens (plant estrogen-like compounds) that have antioxidant properties.

Because flaxseeds play a role in fighting inflammation, they have been studied in cancer research. Animal studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may suppress the growth, size and expansion of cancer cells. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed may affect the treatment of breast cancer. Lignans have a very similar chemical structure to an estrogen molecule. Some breast cancers contain estrogen receptors, and the lignans from flaxseed bind to those receptors, reducing the growth of cancer cells.

Finally, the fiber in flaxseed may contribute to digestive health, such as treating constipation and creating a healthy and diverse microbiome. Fiber also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is important for people with diabetes.

Are flax seeds good for weight loss?

Foods rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats, such as flaxseed, contribute to satiety and regulate hunger, making them good for weight loss. A meta-analysis of 45 studies indicates that eating flaxseed as part of a healthy diet can reduce body weight and waist size. The research also suggests that consuming more than 30 grams (¼ cup) for longer than 12 weeks has a positive impact on body composition.

Does flax seed reduce belly fat?

It is a common nutritional myth that any food can reduce belly fat. In fact, it is impossible to target fat loss to a specific part of the body. When you lose weight, you may see a decrease in multiple parts of the body, including your abdomen, legs, chest, or arms. Although flaxseed can contribute to weight loss, it won’t magically melt away belly fat.

How much linseed per day is ideal?

There is no standard serving size for flaxseed, although most packages recommend 2 to 3 tablespoons (about 1 ounce) per serving. The USDA counts ½ ounce of seeds as a 1 ounce equivalent of protein (most people need at least 5-6 ounces per day).

Should flaxseed be eaten in the morning or evening?

There is no research on the best time of day to eat flaxseeds, so include them in your diet whenever you want. The best time to eat them is a time that works for you! Many people like to sprinkle them into their morning oatmeal, smoothie, lunch salad or grain bowl.

Who shouldn’t eat flaxseed?

Flaxseed is safe for most healthy people. Because of their high fiber content, eating too much of them can cause gas and bloating. If you’re concerned about this, stick to the 2 to 3 tablespoon recommendation.

Although the lignans in flaxseed have been shown to be beneficial for women’s health, some people with breast cancer or other hormonal conditions may be concerned about eating flaxseed. If so, talk to your doctor about including it in your diet.

Is there any benefit to using flaxseed in your skin care routine?

You may have seen the claims on TikTok that a flaxseed water gel is “the same as Botox.” Flaxseed contains healthy fats and vitamin E, two nutrients that are beneficial for the skin when ingested. That said, applying flaxseed to your face isn’t the same as eating it and it’s certainly not the same as Botox. If you want to reap the skin benefits of flaxseeds, add them to your diet.

Recipes for healthy flax seeds

From smoothies to baked goods to granola, there are several ways to eat more flaxseed. Here are some of our favorite recipes:

Peach melba with flaxseed streusel by Greg Baxtrom

Sweet Potato Pancakes from Jenné Claiborne

Daphne Oz’s Chocolate Banana Flax Muffins

Divine Start Smoothie by Catherine McCord

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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