Can You Eat Flax Seeds Whole?

Can You Eat Flax Seeds Whole?Flax seed oil and ground flax seed are both excellent additions for your diet.  Learn more about the benefits of flax seed for your digestive health along with how the tiny seed can be incorporated into your meal plans.

Flax seeds are smaller in size compared to peppercorns, but provide your digestive health with tremendous benefits if they are included in your diet.  There are numerous benefits to flax seed – nearly as numerous as the various ways that flax seed oil and ground flax seed can be included in your diet.

The benefits offered by flax seed include the following:

  • They are a great omega-3 fatty acids source.
  • Flax seeds contain soluble fiber.  It is the kind of fiber that helps the digestive processes.
  • Lignans are contained in flax-seeds, which are a beneficial kind of plant-derived substance.  There are oils contained in them that lubricate your system to promote digestive regularity.
  • Flax seeds, which are derived from flax plants, are a rich source of minerals and vitamins as well, which make them an excellent addition for your diet.

Sheah L. Rarback, registered dietitian and Mailman Center for Child Development director at Florida’s University of Miami Mill School of Medicine, says that you want to have multi-functional things in your diet in terms of them containing micro nutrients like minerals and vitamins.

They also help with fiber and digestion.  Omega-3s are an extra benefit. They are anti-inflammatory.  The cause of a majority of chronic conditions and problems is inflammation.

There are several different types of flax seeds:

  • Flax seed oil
  • Whole flax seeds
  • Ground flax seed meal

Any of them may be incorporated into your diet. However, there are some very important facts that you to need to know about how to best use flax seeds in your diet:

Rarback says to not use them whole.  It is essential to consume ground flax seeds instead of whole flax seeds.  If you try eating them whole, they just pass through your entire system without them being digested.  However, when they are ground, there are a great soluble fiber source, and that helps with elimination.  You can use a basic coffee grinder to grind a couple of tablespoons of whole flax seed as needed.

Refrigerate ground flax seed meal and flax seed oil. Products that contain flax seed oil, like any oil, over time may become rancid (spoiled). When those foods are kept refrigerated it preserves them for a longer period of time. The smell will let you know when flax seed products are beginning to go bad.  Although flax seed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, there is no fiber contained in it – so if your main concern is digestive benefits, choose ground flax seeds.       

The following are some ideas for incorporating flax seeds into your diet:

  • Flax seed meal can be used in your baking or added to dishes like meatloaf.
  • Flax seed oil can be added to your salad dressing.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seed on your salad.
  • Stir ground flax seed into juice.
  • Add ground flax seed to hot or cold cereal.

There isn’t a set recommendation for the amount of flax seed that should be included in your diet.  However, there are recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.

If you haven’t had much fiber previously in your diet and you begin increasing how much you consume, go slowly.  Be sure to drink plenty of water as you are adding sources of fiber like flax seeds.  You need to drink plenty of water in order for fiber to do its best work.

Rarback recognizes that may people are concerned about fat content and might avoid flax seeds due to the fact that they contain fats also.  However, she states that the oils and fats in omega-3s are healthy and in very small quantities so that they won’t interfere with any low-fat diet plans.  Most of the fat in diet comes from meats, fatty animal products, processed foods, and fried foods – and doesn’t really come from adding flax.

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