Keto as a Way of Life
Why Flaxseed is Good for Keto and Great for You
Flaxseed is an ingredient that I never knew about until starting Keto. We discovered this fantastic little seed as we explored low carb substitutes for some of the traditional ingredients we were used to.
Getting into a low carb way of living like Keto can mean a lot of changes in your life.
Changes in your everyday habits.
… in the way you cook…
…… the way you eat.
Of course, those changes mean you have to rethink how you stock your pantry.
What ingredients will become your new kitchen staples?
Like Rebecca and me, as you begin to search Google, Pinterest. and the Blogosphere for “keto recipes” you will likely start running into some ingredients that you’ve never used and possibly never even heard of.
That kind of thing can be intimidating and even discouraging to someone just starting out.
There’s already so much stuff to learn about Keto! Someone should make ingredient discovery a little easier.
That’s why we decided to write about some of those ingredients, like Flaxseed. Call it an “Ingredient Spotlight” if you will.
What is it?
You may have heard Flaxseed referred to as Linseed. It comes from the Flax Plant, which is also called Linum usitatissimum by the sciency folks. Thus, the name Linseed.
There’s a chance you’ve used Linseed oil to cook with or to polish wooden furniture! This plant was likely grown in Egypt about a bazillion years or so ago.
Today, this single-stemmed plant with pretty, blue flowers is cultivated just about everywhere in the world.
Due to the high fiber content in Flaxseed, it has been grown for use for centuries in the production of paper products and textiles as well as food for both humans and livestock.
Flaxseed is useful stuff!
What does Flaxseed taste like?
Ground flax seed has a mild, nutty flavor with a warm, earthy note. This makes it great to use in bread recipes, and to substitute for grains in gluten-free recipes. There are two types of flaxseed on the market; brown and golden. They have such a similar flavor profile, it’s tough to describe the difference. You have to try them both to determine how best you want to use them in your recipes.
Why is Flaxseed good for Keto?
Flaxseed is a low carb, high fiber food, so they have zero net carbs.
Remember: Always subtract the fiber from the carbs listed on the label. That will tell you the “Net Carbs”
As I started researching Flaxseed to write this post, I found that they have a TON of other great health benefits. These little gems are good for just about any diet.
It’s quite a lot, but I felt like if I didn’t share some of the information I found, I would be doing you a disservice. If you want to skip all the science and go straight to the Cliff Notes version at the bottom, click here.
Flaxseed has been a dietary staple for centuries because it doesn’t just taste good; it also packs a healthy, nutritional punch.
It can be a bit tricky to separate truth from fiction when you hear about the health benefits of different foods. When reading a “lists of health benefits” like this, it’s best to keep in mind that everyone is different. Some foods may not react the same with you as they do with other people.
Flaxseed certainly isn’t a cure all, but there is quite a bit of science that suggests it’s a heavy hitter where good health is concerned. Don’t worry… I’m going to keep the science simple in this post. This is meant as an intro for newbies, remember?
Flaxseed helps you poop (and do other digestive things)
Just getting that out there! Flax is one of the best sources of soluble and insoluble fiber you can get. Because of that, flaxseed does all sorts of things that aid in digestion from the moment you consume it, to the moment you pass it.
The high fiber content in flaxseed keeps your digestive tract nice and tidy. Everyone knows that a clean colon is a healthy colon.
It’s also been found that polyphenols in flaxseed support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help get rid of yeast and candida in the body.
People suffering from Crohn’s Disease and other digestive ailments have benefited from the use of flaxseed.
Flaxseed may help you lose weight
Flaxseed has a lot of healthy fats and fiber in it. These work together to make you feel full longer after you eat it. This causes a chain reaction of things…
You feel full – > you don’t eat as much – > you have fewer calories – > you lose a little weight – > inflammation is reduced – > results in hormonal balance – > results in increased weight loss – > snowball effect
Flaxseed is good for your heart
Flaxseed is high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These have been studied a bunch and are well-documented to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure). In fact, according to this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24126178) “In summary, flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention.”
It improves platelet function, protects your arteries and helps your heart beat more regularly.
The Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Flaxseed are also anti-inflammatory. Inflammation causes a lot of problems in the human body related and unrelated to your heart.
Additionally, the soluble fiber in Flaxseed has shown in studies to help lower cholesterol and other lipids in the blood. There’s a lot of in-depth science behind this, but the Cliff Notes version is… Flaxseed literally makes you poop out the cholesterol and bad fats.
I swear, that’s the last time I mention poop in this post.
Flaxseed can help make you pretty
Well, maybe not pretty exactly (because let’s face it, some of y’all can’t be helped!) But it’s great for your skin, nails, and hair. Along with the fatty acids that Flaxseed offers, it also comes equipped with B vitamins that work together to moisturize and strengthen the cells in your skin, nails, and hair.
Flaxseed has been used to help improve conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. The fatty acids in Flaxseed have even been shown to help with Dry Eye Syndrome because of their lubricating effects.
Flaxseed also provides some anti-aging and cell-regenerating effects because it’s high antioxidant content. Which leads us to….
Flaxseed is rich in Antioxidants
In addition to what I just mentioned, the antioxidants in flaxseed help balance hormones, and have antiviral/antibacterial properties. So they can help keep you from getting sick!
Like most people, you probably associate Antioxidants with helping reduce the risk of Cancer. Flaxseed is noted for this as well. They seem to help prevent and treat hormone-related cancers like Breast, Prostate, Ovarian, and Colon Cancer.
While antioxidants are known for working against the free radicals in our bodies which are known to cause Cancer, some scientists believe the hormonal balance from flaxseed assists in fighting Cancer as well.
Flaxseed may help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Various studies have shown that Flaxseed offers positive results in managing Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin resistance.
For example, Diabetic subjects who took one tablespoon of flaxseed daily for a month experienced a significant drop in fasting blood sugars, triglycerides, cholesterol and A1C level.
In this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3112403/), people with insulin resistance were given Flaxseed supplements for 12 weeks. The result was a small but significant reduction in insulin resistance.
Flaxseed may help decrease Menopausal and Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms
Flaxseed has the ability to balance the hormone estrogen, so there are several benefits for women of all ages. Because of the way it does this, flaxseed has even been used as an alternative or as a supplement to hormone replacement therapy in some menopausal women.
Other benefits offered by this hormonal balancing act are reduced risk of osteoporosis, and regulation of the menstrual cycle.
There is some concern that since flaxseed benefit women like this, it may negatively affect testosterone in men. The science behind that is inconclusive. However, the documented health benefits of flaxseed like reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved cardio-vascular health have all been proven to increase testosterone in men significantly.
Flaxseed is Nutritionally Dense
Dr. Axe says that Flaxseed is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. (https://draxe.com/nutrient-dense-foods/)
Here are the nutrition facts about Flaxseed according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database (https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3716)
A 2 Tablespoon serving contains:
- 110 calories
- 6 g carbohydrates
- 4 g protein
- 8.5 g fat
- 6 g fiber
- 0.6 mg manganese
- 0.4 mg thiamine/vitamin B1
- 80 mg magnesium
- 132 mg phosphorus
- 0.2 mg copper
- 5 mg selenium
- 18 mg Calcium
- .4 mg Iron
- 27 mg Magnesium
- 45 mg Phosphorus
- 57 mg Potassium
- 2 mg Sodium
- .3 mg Zink
Note for comparison:
100 g of Flaxseed contains 813mg of Potassium and 0 net carbs.
100 g of banana contains 358mg of Potassium and 20.4 net carbs.
Ground Flax Seed
Flax seed is one of the essentials of Keto baking. It adds a depth of flavor to breads/muffins. With only 1 net carb per 2 tablespoons, it’s a great addition to any recipe that might use flour or meal.
We like it because it’s also a good source of Magnesium and Omega 3 fatty acids.
For more on Flax Seed, check out our blog post about it, "Why Flaxseed is Good for Keto and Great for You"
How to Use Flaxseed
The best way to consume flaxseed is when the seeds are ground into a meal. You can buy it that way, which makes it easy, but you can also grind the seeds themselves in a coffee or spice grinder.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Always drink plenty of water when consuming high fiber foods. You should be doing this anyway!
These are great in a lot of Keto applications/recipes like:
- Low carb Smoothies
- Mixed into Keto Yogurt
- Low Carb Granola
- Baked into Keto baked goods (breads, muffins, cakes, etc)
Some Things to Keep in Mind: Precautions
- Make sure to drink plenty of water any time you consume foods that are high in fiber, otherwise you run the risk of not being able to…… well, I said I wouldn’t mention that again.
- Consumed in large amounts (especially without plenty of water) flaxseed could upset your stomach.
- High fiber foods may keep you from absorbing some medications. If you’re taking medication, you may want to check with your doctor before you add flaxseed to your diet.
- Be aware, if you’re taking blood thinners, you will want to avoid flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids increase the effects of blood thinning medications.
- It’s not common, but some people are allergic to flaxseed, so if you try it for the first time, pay attention to how you feel. If you suspect an allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away.
- What are Flax Seeds?
- Seeds from the Flax plant that are super good for you
- What are the health benefits of flaxseed?
- They help you poop (and aid in digestion)
- They can assist in weight loss
- They are good for your heart
- They help make you pretty
- They fight Cancer
- They help manage Type 2 Diabetes and improve insulin resistance
- They Balance hormones
- They are nutritionally dense
- Where can you get them?
- The grocery store
- Health food stores
- What to watch out for:
- Drink plenty of water with them to avoid constipation
- Consuming a lot of them can upset your stomach
- They prevent the absorption of some medications (check with your doctor)
- They can increase the effect of blood thinners
- While uncommon, some people are allergic to flaxseed
Thanks for Reading
We hope you enjoy this Ingredient Spotlight on Flaxseeds. If you give them a try, please let us know how it works out for you. Please drop us a line in the comments below, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on our Facebook Page where we share and discuss Keto recipes all the time.
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