Flaxseeds have long been considered a local superfood. Long before our time, flaxseed was considered to be particularly healthy and helpful for digestive problems. The flax is often also called flax and offers many possible uses. The cultivated plant is one of the oldest plants of all.
So it is not surprising that the potential of flaxseed was discovered early on. But for a long time now, flaxseed has not only been used for digestive problems, but with its ingredients it also helps to combat numerous other ailments.(1) In this article we will provide you with everything you need to know about flaxseed.
the essentials in brief
- Flaxseed not only aids in digestion, but may also help with inflammation and more serious conditions such as high blood pressure.(2)
- You should not exceed the recommended intake amounts and always drink enough liquid. If you don't, it can have a very negative effect.
- Flaxseed comes in many different forms, whether natural or in capsule form - there is something for everyone. Depending on the variant, there are different preferred application options.
Background: what are flaxseeds?
Our guide to flaxseeds provides you with comprehensive information on all the essential facts about healthy medicinal plant seeds. In addition to general information, we also give you valuable tips on how to use flaxseed. You will also learn what to look out for when taking flaxseed.
Where does flaxseed come from?
Linseed is the seed of the flax plant, also known as flax. Flax is also cultivated in our region and Europe, in addition to cultivation areas such as Russia, Ukraine and China. These include the Netherlands, France and Germany.
In addition to the well-known brown flaxseeds, there are also golden-colored seeds from special breeding. These golden yellow flaxseeds have the property of swelling more than the original brown flaxseeds. Especially when it comes to seeds and sprouts, you should always pay attention to good quality. Organic products are particularly recommended.
What can flaxseed do and when is it used?
Flaxseeds are particularly suitable for use in gastrointestinal problems. Flaxseed is mainly used when it comes to symptoms such as constipation, irritable bowel including abdominal pain, diarrhea or flatulence as well as inflammation of the skin or diverticula in the large intestine.
Ground flaxseeds have a stronger effect on your body. (Image source: pixbay / fesehe)
But the superfood is no longer only used in the area of the gastrointestinal tract. According to current studies and research, flaxseed could also be used in the future for ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases or as a cholesterol-lowering agent. Research is also being carried out into flaxseed for asthma, diabetes and general inflammation.(3)
What ingredients and nutritional values are contained in flaxseed?
There is no question that flaxseed is a real natural wonder in many ways. Flaxseed owes its versatile use above all to its healthy nutritional values.(4) Below we have briefly listed these nutritional values and ingredients.
- Fiber: A quarter of flaxseed consists of fiber. This dietary fiber greatly aids in digestion.
- Mucilage: The mucilage in the flaxseed binds the water in the intestines by swelling and thus stimulates intestinal motility. At the same time, they cover the stomach like a protective film, allowing pathogens to be transported away more easily and thus contributing to detoxification .
- Omega-3 fatty acids : About half of flaxseed consists of omega-3 fatty acids. This omega-3 is particularly important for metabolism and has anti-inflammatory effects.(5)
- Protein: Protein is also an important component of flaxseed, accounting for about a quarter. Protein is one of the most important nutrients for our body.
- Magnesium: Magnesium supports muscle and nerve functions, keeps the electrolyte balance in balance and strengthens teeth and bones.(6)
- Iron: Iron is particularly important when it comes to transporting oxygen in the blood. The body cannot produce iron itself and must therefore be supplied in order to maintain physical performance.
- Zinc: Zinc is an important trace element for nails, hair and skin. Zinc also supports our metabolism and our immune system .
- Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 contributes to our metabolic process and is responsible for the breakdown and conversion of carbohydrates, among other things. People who suffer from diabetes also often have lower levels of vitamin B1 in their blood.(7)
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is also important for our metabolism. In addition to the metabolism, it also influences the hormone balance and the nerves.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a special vitamin that protects against free radicals. It has an antioxidant effect and thus contributes to the protection of our cells.
As you can see, flaxseed not only has a laxative effect, but is also a really special superfood in other respects. Especially when it comes to metabolic issues and intestinal health , no other regional food can outperform flaxseed.
For whom is flaxseed suitable?
Basically, flaxseeds are suitable for everyone. Consumption is only discouraged for babies and small children under the age of 2 and pregnant women up to the 35th week. However, it should always be used on small children after consulting a doctor.
According to recent studies, pregnant women are advised not to eat flaxseed. At the end of pregnancy, i.e. from the 35th week of pregnancy, flaxseed can demonstrate a birth-promoting effect. People with pre-existing conditions should always check with their doctor first.
But flaxseed is not only suitable for humans. The medicinal plant seeds can also help horses, dogs or cats. For animals, however, slightly different rules apply. For example, when used on animals, the flaxseed has to swell considerably longer in order not to harm the animal.
What is the best way to consume flaxseed?
Basically, linseed can be processed in different ways. The simplest processing variants of healthy flaxseeds are either whole seeds or ground seeds. The crushed flaxseed often has a better effect, but does not keep as long.(8) However, flaxseed can also be further processed into other products.
Ground flaxseeds have a stronger effect than whole seeds due to the direct release of the mucilage.
Depending on the intended use, it is also advisable to let the flaxseed swell or soak it beforehand. If you suffer from gastritis, you should definitely follow this tip. However, if you have problems with your digestion, i.e. constipation, you should avoid it. As a result, the flaxseed only swells in the intestine and develops its laxative effect there.
When taking flaxseed, also note that it can usually take up to 3 days for it to develop its full effect. In addition, an adult should drink at least 1.5 liters of liquid a day. If you don't, taking flaxseed can backfire and do the exact opposite.
In what form can flaxseed be used?
As an alternative to pure seeds, flaxseeds can also be processed into other products. This includes, for example, linseed flour, linseed oil, gel or capsules.
If you prefer to take flaxseed in a more liquid form, flaxseed oil is ideal. However, this linseed oil should only be processed cold. The linseed oil is obtained by pressing the linseed. Flaxseed oil is particularly good for absorbing omega-3 fatty acids.(9) The leftovers can be further processed or ground into flaxseed flour.
Flaxseed capsules are ideal for those who like it quick and uncomplicated. Flaxseed gel is also often used. In the following, we have clearly presented the preferred applications for you.
|Pure Flaxseed||Directly to refine muesli, yoghurt, salads or baked goods|
|flaxseed flour||For reduced-calorie and gluten-free baking - whether sweet or savory.|
|linseed oil||Only suitable for cold dishes or very low temperatures, eg for salads, dips and dressings.|
|Linseed Oil Capsules||Fast and easy application. Tasteless, lasts longer and is easy to dose and tolerate.(10)|
|flaxseed gel||For external use on hair, skin and nails|
The areas of application given in the table are of course only a few points of reference for you. There are basically no limits to your creativity. However, always pay attention to the recommended preparation methods. It is also important to consider that the further processing of the flaxseed may result in the loss or reduction of ingredients.
How can I prepare flaxseed?
If you prefer things to be simple and uncomplicated, you can easily sprinkle the flaxseed over your muesli or yoghurt in the morning. If you prefer something hearty, you can of course add it to your salad or soup at any time. For the hobby bakers among you, super baking recipes can also be implemented with linseed flour.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to take the flaxseed internally and ingest it. You can also benefit from the healthy ingredients in flaxseeds through external use. You can wrap the flaxseed in a cotton cloth, pour hot water over it, let it swell and use it as a wrap. A flaxseed gel is also super easy to make by boiling the flaxseeds and then straining them.
Flaxseeds are quick and easy to incorporate into your meal. (Image source: Ajale/pixabay)
How much flaxseed can I take and what do I have to consider?
An adult can consume 2-3 servings of flaxseed daily with a meal. One portion corresponds to around 15 grams. The daily intake of 45 grams should therefore not be exceeded. During pregnancy, it should also be a maximum of 15 grams. However, no adverse effects have been identified with daily consumption of 50 grams of flaxseed.(11)
Below we have summarized the maximum daily doses for children.
|Old||Maximum daily dose (2-3 times a day)|
|up to 3 years||2-4 grams|
|4-9 years||3-6 grams|
|10-15 years||6-10 grams|
If you are taking medication, you should always discuss taking flaxseed with your doctor and only use flaxseed at a sufficient interval after taking the medication. There should be at least 3-4 hours between the drug and the seeds.
The maximum daily recommended dose of flaxseed for adults is 45 grams.
As already mentioned, you also have to make sure that you drink enough fluids. So that the mucilage of the flaxseed does not stick together in the intestines, a liquid intake of at least 1.5 liters is mandatory. Suitable drinks are water or unsweetened tea. Incidentally, milk is not one of them, since milk does not cause the flaxseed to swell.
If you are very unsure about the dosage or like it simple and uncomplicated, you can also use linseed oil capsules. These capsules can be dosed precisely.
Do flaxseeds have side effects?
Even if you don't want to believe it, flaxseeds don't just have benefits. In addition to all the great ingredients, flaxseeds also contain a substance that can produce hydrocyanic acid. To prevent this, you can pour hot water over the flaxseeds and let them soak for at least 15 minutes. This releases the toxins from the seeds. However, no poisoning has been observed so far.(12)
However, recent studies show that taking flaxseed is harmless as long as you stick to the specified maximum daily dose. It is best to make sure that the flaxseed is of a sufficiently good quality. In this case, it is always advisable to use organic products.
Flaxseed should also not be taken if you already have previous illnesses. These include, for example, narrowing of the esophagus, acute and inflamed bowel diseases (including Crohn's disease). Acute symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting or an intestinal obstruction also rule out use.
Can you lose weight with flaxseed?
Even if it would be nice, but unfortunately you cannot lose weight just by taking flaxseed. However, flaxseed can help you lose weight comprehensively. Flaxseed can suppress cravings and create a long-lasting feeling of satiety.
They also stimulate digestion, get the intestines going and are also suitable for intestinal cleansing as a diet preparation. Because flaxseeds have a laxative effect, they also help you lose weight. In order to be able to lose weight permanently, you should always pay attention to a healthy diet and a lot of exercise. The healthy flaxseeds are therefore an excellent addition to a balanced lifestyle.
Flaxseeds have become indispensable in the home kitchen. The healthy ingredients in flaxseed not only promote digestion, but also provide your body with important minerals and trace elements. Whether whole, crushed or as a processed product, there is the optimal variant or the right recipe for every type.
But flaxseed is not only great for acute symptoms. Flaxseed can also be used to provide your body with other important nutrients. However, you should always make sure that you drink enough liquid and do not have any chronic intestinal diseases. Since the healthy flaxseeds are also suitable for use in animals, it is never wrong to have flaxseed in the house.
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