Golden linseed (aka flax): Benefits, nutrition & how to eat it
Fibre? Check. Omega-3s? Check. Antioxidants? Check. Linseed, also known as flax, is the health-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, inflammation-reducing seed that might just be one of nature’s best-kept secrets.
Flax only popped up on the ‘superfood’ health scene in recent years, but it’s actually old news. Cultivated centuries ago by the ancient Egyptians, it’s one of the oldest crops known to mankind. Described by some as the ‘most powerful plant food on the planet’, it has long been cultivated for its fibre, which is used to make clothes and bed linen around the world.
But that’s not all. Packed with fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, these tiny seeds have some serious nutritional power to boot. Here's everything you need to know about flax – the health benefits, nutrition facts and how to incorporate them into your daily diet.
By weight, linseed is 22% carbs (the majority of which are fibre), 66% fats and 12% protein. Per two tablespoons (around 20g), it contains approximately 109 calories, 8.5g fat (of which only 0.4g is saturated), 5.5g dietary fibre and under 1g net carbs.
And when it comes to micronutrients, flax is a little seed with big benefits. Those same two tablespoons provide 80g magnesium (21% NRV), 0.6g manganese (30% NRV), 0.4g thiamine (36% NRV) , 132g phosphorus (18% NRV) and 56g calcium (7% NRV).
NRV = Nutrient Reference Value (EU guidance on the daily amount of a vitamin or mineral that the average healthy person needs to prevent deficiency).
Even more impressive is flax’s alpha-linolenic acid content. ALA is an essential fatty acid; nutrients which are vital for good health, but can be harder to find in vegan and vegetarian diets. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed provide a mighty 4.7g ALA, making it one of the richest plant sources of ALA in the world.
Flax health benefits
1. Improves cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease, as well as heart attack, stroke and dementia.
But linseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis found that eating linseed significantly lowered total and ‘bad’ cholesterol, especially in post-menopausal women and those with high cholesterol.
The European Food Standards Agency claims that 2g of plant omega-3 ALA daily can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. Thanks to both linseed and chia, Purition contains an average of 1.85g of ALA per serving, providing over 90% of your daily ALA requirement according to the EFSA.
2. Reduces disease risk
Lignans are believed to have antiangiogenic properties, which means they can help to slow the growth of tumours. In addition, lignans are believed to reduce the body’s production of estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer prevention.
And when it comes to lignans, nothing beats flax. According to Elaine Magee in her book ‘The Flax Cookbook’, flaxseed contains over 120x more lignan than most beans, over 180x more than most whole grains and over 260x more than most vegetables.
In addition, chronic inflammation can increase your risk of numerous diseases – but linseed brings some serious anti-inflammatory power to the table! It’s brimming with alpha-linolenic acid, which studies show can help to lower several markers of inflammation when consumed regularly.
Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin seeds and linseeds are all rich in disease-fighting lignans, while chia and linseed are the best sources of inflammation-reducing ALA in the world. The good news? You’ll find every single one of them in your daily Purition!
3. Lowers blood pressure
Over the long term, high blood pressure could increase your risk of a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Fortunately, a healthy diet and weight will help to keep your blood pressure in check – and it turns out that flax could play a role, too! Research suggests that regularly eating these super seeds as part of a balanced diet is an effective way to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
In a study, those who consumed flax seeds daily for 6 months experienced a 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure. This small reduction can, in turn, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease events by up to 20%, coronary heart disease by up to 17%, stroke by up to 27% and heart failure by up to 28% (source).
4. Improves digestion & weight management
Fibre is a type of plant carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the human body and therefore passes through the digestive system. It keeps your digestive system running smoothly and feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut microbiome. Linseed contains both soluble and insoluble fibre in generous quantities; a powerful duo for digestive health!
Linseed’s high fibre content can help you to maintain a healthy weight. Fibre takes longer to digest than simple carbs and sugars, so it’ll keep you feeling fuller for much longer. Soluble fibre also absorbs large amounts of water and expands in your stomach, which can slow the absorption of food and further help to increase fullness. These factors mean high-fibre foods, like flax, can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
The RDA of fibre in the UK is 30g, but the average intake falls at just 18g. If you think you might be falling short, flax-filled Purition makes for a convenient way to get more of the good stuff, with around 7g fibre per serving.
5. Aids blood sugar control
Blood sugar spikes happen when your blood sugar rises and falls rapidly after eating. For those with diabetes, it’s crucial to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range in order to avoid complications. But even if you don’t have diabetes, blood sugar crashes can make you feel tired and hungry.
Thankfully, eating plenty of fibre, protein and fats whilst moderating your sugar intake can help to keep blood sugar levels steady – and linseed can lend a helping hand too. Research suggests that eating these powerful seeds reduces blood sugar levels. This is due to their soluble fibre content, which helps to slow down food digestion and cause blood sugar levels to rise slowly and steadily, preventing spikes.
If you have type-2 diabetes or suffer from blood sugar crashes, you’ll love flax-packed Purition. All of our flavours are naturally low in carbohydrates but high in fibre to support blood sugar balance. According to our own tests and lots of positive customer feedback, Purition has a negligible impact on blood sugar levels.
How to eat flax/golden linseeds
You're clued up on the health benefits of flax, so now it's time to get more of it into your daily diet. Here are some simple serving suggestions to get you started:
- Sprinkle on salads
- Stir into cooked porridge
- Blend into protein smoothies
- Mix with mayo or mustard
- Stir into yoghurt
- Bake nutty protein bars
Enjoy flax in Purition
The easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of flax/golden linseed? In your daily Purition.
All our flavours contain 7 core seeds and nuts – whole ground golden linseed (flax), sunflower kernels, almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, whole chia seeds and sesame seeds – which we grind, chop, mix and pack ourselves at Purition HQ.
The result? A real food meal, ready in an instant. It’s packed with nutritious ingredients like flax to nourish your body, support a healthy gut and help you to feel fuller for longer. Our natural blend is also slow-digesting to provide a steady release of energy, which means you can wave goodbye to those irritating mid-morning and afternoon energy crashes.
Our linseed is grown in the UK, mainly in Essex and East Anglia, to keep food miles as low as possible. We’ve got our own purpose-designed and purpose-built flax mill, which we use to hammer mill all of our own linseed every morning. That means it’s fresh as can be for the day ahead’s batches!
Grinding our own flax daily from the whole seed ensures all of the goodness and nourishment is retained – unlike flax seed powder, which is just the ground seed after the nutritious oil has been removed.
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