Nutrition 101 : How to Eat Flax Seed for the Most Health Benefits

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How to Use Flax Seed

Three Parts:

Flaxseed is high in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including Omega-3s, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Flaxseed can improve your digestive health and relieve constipation. This superfood can also help to lower your blood cholesterol, thereby lowering your risk of heart disease.


Adding Flaxseed to Your Diet

  1. Start with a small dose of flaxseed.Ground flaxseed, also referred to as “milled flaxseed” or “flax meal”, can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort if you do not give your body time to adjust to it. If you are just starting to use flaxseed, start with 1 tbsp (14 g) a day, and gradually add more to your diet.
    • Do not exceed 2 to 4 tbsp (28g to 56.7g) of flaxseed a day.
  2. Consume ground flaxseed, rather than whole flaxseed, if possible.You can consume whole flaxseed and still receive some nutritional benefits. But grinding the flaxseed will ensure your body digests the seed and processes it properly. This will allow your body to receive the maximum amount of health benefits from the flaxseed.
  3. Avoid flaxseed if you have bowel problems.Flaxseed can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort. If you have existing bowel issues like acute or chronic diarrhea, diverticulitis (colon disorder), or inflammatory bowel disease, avoid flaxseed as it can make these conditions worse.
  4. Do not take flaxseed if you have a known allergy or sensitivity to flaxseed.You should also avoid this seed if you are allergic to flaxseed oil, or any other members of the Linaceae plant family.
    • Allergic reaction symptoms include itchy palms, hives, itchy eyes and weeping, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting after consuming flaxseed.
  5. Talk to your doctor before you take flaxseed if you are on other medications.Check with your doctor before you consume flaxseed to avoid other health issues.
    • If you currently have breast cancer, limit flaxseed to 2-3 Tbsp per day and avoid flax supplementation. Talk to your doctor and health care team before beginning this regimen.

Using Ground Flaxseed

  1. Buy ground flaxseed in bulk.Look for whole flaxseed if you have access to a coffee grinder or small powerful blender, like a Ninja or Bullet, as whole flaxseed will pass through your body without being digested and you will not get the healthy benefits of this superfood.
    • Buying ground flaxseed is also a good option as you will not have to grind the flaxseed yourself.
  2. Grind whole flaxseed in a coffee grinder before use.You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind up the flaxseed. Don’t worry about making the flaxseed very fine or ground, simple break up the seeds so they form smaller pieces that your body can digest.
  3. Consume ground flaxseed with other liquids.You can put the ground flaxseed in a liquid or consume it with a liquid on the side. Your intestines may be obstructed if you consume flaxseed without enough water or liquid.
  4. Soak the seeds before you put them in smoothies or juices.Soaking the ground seeds will give them a soft, chewy texture that blends well in your smoothie or juice.
    • Put one heaping spoonful of ground flaxseed in a bowl. Pour enough water to submerge the seeds and cover the bowl. Leave the flaxseed to soak overnight.
    • Add the swollen seeds to your morning smoothie or juice. Blend or stir them into the smoothie or juice. Flaxseed has a nutty flavor that pairs well with fruit and vegetable smoothies.
  5. Sprinkle flaxseeds on your yogurt or cereal.Ground flaxseed also pairs well with low fat yogurt or sugar free cereal. You can also add ground flaxseed to hot oatmeal for a nutty and healthy kick.
  6. Add toasted flaxseed to salads and soups.Toast the ground flaxseed in the oven on a sheet pan or in a small toaster oven. Be sure not to burn the flaxseed. Sprinkle them on your salads and soups for a crunchy, nutty taste.
  7. Bake flaxseeds in muffins, cookies, and cakes.Ground flaxseed is a great option for a low carb, high fiber diet. Using flaxseed in muffins, cookies, and cakes gives your baked goods a nice moist texture that is also good for you.
    • Try this one minute flax muffin recipe.Mix ¼ ground flaxseed with ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon Stevia (or other sugar supplement), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a mug or small, microwave safe bowl.
    • Microwave the mug or bowl for one minute on high.
    • You also add frozen fruit like frozen blueberries or strawberries to the mixture. If you include frozen fruit, microwave the mug or bowl for one and a half minutes on high.
    • Put a small amount of butter on the muffin and enjoy a low carb, high fiber snack.
  8. Keep ground flaxseed in an airtight container.The ground flaxseed will keep for several months in an airtight container.
  9. Refrigerate whole seeds.Keeping whole seeds in the refrigerator will keep them fresh and ready for grinding.

Using Flaxseed Oil

  1. Look for flaxseed oil at your local health food store.Flaxseed oil is an easy and safe way to ingest flaxseed without having to grind the seeds. It’s also a good moisturizer for your skin.
  2. Mix flaxseed oil in salad dressings and soups.You can also drink 2-3 teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day in a glass of water or a smoothie.
  3. Do not cook with flaxseed oil.Flaxseed oil has a low smoke point so it does not hold up to the high heat of a burner and is not recommended for cooking on the stove.
  4. Put flaxseed oil in the refrigerator after use.Flaxseed oil can become unstable if exposed to heat, so keep it cool in the refrigerator after you use it.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    My ground flax seed has become hard. How can I make it soft again?

    Registered Dietitian
    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas. She received her M.S. in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.
    Registered Dietitian
    Expert Answer
    Your flaxseed may have gone bad. Label your foods and throw them away when out of date. Flaxseed lasts up to 1 year when stored in the fridge or up to 2 months if pre-ground.
  • Question
    For how long flax seed can be preserved?

    Registered Dietitian
    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas. She received her M.S. in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.
    Registered Dietitian
    Expert Answer
    Flaxseed lasts up to 1 year when stored in the fridge or up to 2 months if pre-ground.
  • Question
    How much ground flax seed powder should I use every day?
    Top Answerer
    Put 1 to 2 tablespoons in smoothies or food. Taking it with water prevents blockage.
  • Question
    How do I use flax seed for hair growth?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    According to some research, flax seed can bring glow and strength back to your hair. The most recommended method for consumption is blending the flax seed with water or green tea.
  • Question
    Can I mix flax seed powder in warm water mixed with honey and lemon juice?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    I'm sure you can. I've used that mixture before for something similar to cough syrup.
  • Question
    Can flax seed be popped like popcorn?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. It can be toasted in a dry skillet over med heat, and you will hear pops as it heats, but it will never look like popcorn.
Unanswered Questions
  • Can I first lightly toasted the flaxseed in metallic bowl then grind them to make powder and next can I use 1 table spoon of this powder with a one cup of green tea daily in the morning?
  • Why can't I use flaxseed with breast cancer? I read it possibly helps fight breast cancer.
  • How to use it for increasing height?
  • Can Ground Flex seed be mixed with a cup of tea and taken accordingly? Tea cup being small, only 1 tea spoon of ground Flex Seed be a better option?
  • How do I use flax seed to reduce pain?
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Quick Summary

To use flaxseed in your diet, start by adding 1 tbsp to your food each day so your body can get used to it. Otherwise, you may experience abdominal discomfort. You will get more nutritional benefits if you grind the flaxseed before you eat it, and it will be easier to digest. You can then sprinkle the ground flaxseed on your yogurt, cereal, or salads, or bake them into muffins, cookies, and cakes. If you’re adding the flaxseed to a smoothie or glass of juice, soak them in water overnight to give them a soft, chewy texture.

Did this summary help you?
  • Storing seeds in the freezer means you can keep them for longer!
  • Drink plenty of fluids; otherwise the flax will cause constipation.
  • Ground flax can be an easy way to get some fiber into your diet (with water!).


  • Flax seed cannot be used for high heat applications such as frying, because it will spoil the oil and make it harmful.
  • Never use flax seed/oil that smells off or has become sticky! This can be detrimental to your health.
  • Flax oil spoils easily if not in the right conditions; store it in a dark, UV protected bottle and in a cool, dark place.

Things You'll Need

  • Whole or ground flaxseed
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Food processor or coffee grinder

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of How to Use Flax Seed was reviewed by on August 11, 2019.

Views: 305,136
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Pragya Mehto

Sep 10

"Very detailed, has all the info I need."

Lisa Dailey

May 31, 2019

"Very beneficial article. I had no idea of some of the risks involved (medication, IBS) when using flax seed. Yousee a lot of smoothie recipes on Pinterest that call for flax seed. It makes me wonder how much people really know about it before suggesting it. "


Apr 26, 2019

"Exceptionally clear presentation, with a combination of pictures and text. Clear explanation of the need to useground material, not whole seeds, to get the maximum benefits. This was new information, so I will now purchase this from the supermarket. Thank you."

Ian James

Oct 2, 2019

"I am trying not to eat wheat (among other foods) and am just starting to look at other foods and recipes that Ihave never even tried. After reading a few other suggestions, your article gave me good practical eating and storage information that I needed."

Lisa Hodgins

Jul 9, 2019

"Both my husband and I have recently had bowel issues. Our doctor suggested ground flax as a helpful alternative.This article provided useful information that is easy to use and follow."

Clare Cowan

Feb 26, 2019

"I had no idea of the correct ways to benefit from flax seed. This article showed how to get the best value, andprovided recipes and pictures to make the most of this incredible seed."

Debbie Star

Jun 29, 2019

"Before I read the article I was unsure if the outer husk could have been toxic? The article clarified that you cangrind the whole seed safely. Thanks."

Tisha Lewis

Sep 16, 2019

"It helped to learn that grinding the whole flax seed is better absorbed, and to soak the flax overnight for drinks& smoothies."

Adan Shafiq

May 5, 2019

"This is great! Flax seed also helps to lose weight and can prevent cancer and diabetes! It's low in fats but highin fiber."

Dana Curtis

Aug 29, 2019

"Just understanding the best ways to incorporate flax seed in my diet helped."

Wilson Blair

May 17, 2019

"Great. Looking for something that will help keep bowels clear."

Devaki Swaroop

Jun 28, 2019

"I had good experience with this narrative. Very nice."

Gertie Geoghegan

Jun 3, 2019

"Very helpful.

Video: Nutritional Supplements : Benefits of Flaxseed Oil for Women

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Date: 06.12.2018, 17:55 / Views: 75392