Does Flaxseed Promote Weight Loss?

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on April 28, 2020
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Although flaxseeds have been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries now, it seems that their popularity has increased in these past couple of years now. Many researchers have spent hours working on discovering what makes these small seeds so powerful as they have come to the conclusion that flaxseeds can be helpful in terms of improving many aspects of our lives and health. 

But can you also use flaxseeds to lose weight? Does their power extend to them being able to improve our self-confidence by improving our body image and causing the number on the weight scale to go down, bringing a wide smile on our face? We will be discussing this and many other aspects of the flaxseeds as a part of our everyday diet in the following article! We will also share some delicious ways in which you can use more flaxseeds in your meals without much effort. Stay tuned!

The nutritional value of flaxseed

Flaxseeds, also commonly referred to as linseeds, can be quite a nutritious addition to your everyday diet. These little seeds have been used for centuries now as their use dates back to Hippocrates (1). Eaten whole, or used to make anything from flaxseed oil and flour to extracts – the possibilities are endless. It is quite easy to incorporate more of them in your daily diet, especially because of their rich heart-healthy fatty acids content. 

According to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), one tablespoon (10g) of flaxseeds will provide you with the following nutrients:

  • Calories – 55
  • Fat – 4.3g
  • Carbohydrates – 3g
  • Sugars – 0.2g
  • Fiber – 2.8g
  • Protein – 1.9g
  • Sodium – 3.1mg (2)

A tablespoon of flaxseeds a day is enough to satisfy 13% of the DRI (dietary recommended intake) for manganese, 10% of magnesium, 7% of phosphorus, 6% of copper, 4% of selenium, etc. Apart from important minerals, flaxseeds also contain essential vitamins within them. And so, a tablespoon of flaxseeds can help you satisfy around 11% of the DRI for thiamin and about 2% of the DRI of niacin, folate, and Vitamin B6 (3).

But one of the most popular reasons for the wide use of flaxseeds is them representing a valuable source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds are a source of alpha-linolenic acid, which, once introduced to the human body, converts into the essential Omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of flaxseeds is more than enough to satisfy our body’s needs for Omega-3 fatty acids (4).

The health benefits of flaxseed

Being as nutritious as they are, flaxseeds have multiple health benefits that you would not like to miss out on. Over the years, there have been many different studies done on the topic as researchers have tried to prove many of the supposed health benefits that flaxseeds have to offer. Although flaxseeds are not a miracle cure of any kind, their use is widely recommended. 

 

  • Improved heart health

 

Being an Omega-3 fatty acids-rich source is what makes flaxseeds probably the best heart-friendly seeds on the planet Earth. On several occasions have flaxseeds been confirmed on being able to help reduce high blood pressure and slow down the progression of arteriosclerosis, which as you may know, are the two important risk factors that contribute to heart disease and heart attack, thus improving our heart health (5, 6).

 

  • Improved blood sugar control

 

Heart disease is not the only major health risk that these little seeds are capable of preventing. Diabetes type 2 is yet another dangerous and unfortunately, a common health issue that can easily endanger your health and life. Although the research is, so far, limited, researchers have concluded in the past that the use of flaxseeds daily can help control the blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes type 2 (7).

 

  • Improved digestive health

 

Being a rich-fiber source, flaxseeds promise to help relieve any digestive health issues that you may have encountered. From diarrhea to constipation – these issues are bound to disappear from your everyday life by simply adding more flaxseeds to your diet (8, 9).

 

  • Protection against some types of cancer

 

Although the research that has been done so far is limited to animal studies and test-tube studies, the results are looking quite promising. It has been suggested that flaxseeds can help reduce the growth of cancer cells. Such success has been accomplished in animal studies done on mice and rats who struggled with lung and colon cancer (10, 11).

 

  • Improved skin health

 

In a study in which women have been used flaxseed for 12 weeks, they experienced improved skin health. Better hydration, smoothness, and reduced skin sensibility and irritation have been reported (12). 

 

  • Reduced inflammation levels

 

Yet another beneficial effect due to the high Omega-3 fatty acids content is the ability of flaxseeds to reduce any present inflammation in the body. Its inflammation-reducing effects have been confirmed in both animal and human studies (13, 14).

Can you use flaxseed to lose weight?

Surprisingly enough, the long-awaited answer to the question that has led you to today’s article is – Yes! Of course, flaxseeds can help you see a change when you look at yourself in the mirror. They can help you shred those annoying extra body pounds and get your body – beach-ready, and that is due to a couple of factors that play a great role, all of which are found in these small, yet powerful seeds.

  • Lignans
  • Lignins
  • Fiber

Let’s start off discussing a promising study conducted in 2019. The results, which were later published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Mineral Research, showed that adding flaxseeds to the everyday diet, in addition to a healthy lifestyle, has helped the participants to achieve great weight loss results. Their results were better than the results that have been achieved without the use of flaxseeds, relying only on a healthy lifestyle, that is (15).

So you see, flaxseeds are no magic seeds, as we mentioned in the beginning. You will still need to work hard to get those weight-loss results, and that still involves following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, which are the two best methods to achieve sustainable and healthy weight loss results. 

The weight-loss results achieved with the help of flaxseeds are due to two very important compounds – lignan and lignin. These two compounds are polyphenols and phytoestrogens, found in the cells of many different plants. It was until recently that researchers discovered how power do these two compounds have within them, leading to major health beneficial effects.

A 2017 study discussed the weight-loss promoting effects of lignan and lignin. Lignan and lignin are capable of supporting fat metabolism and speeding it up, for that matter, while also being able to prevent the accumulation of fat tissue (16). This is certainly good news for all women out there who are often troubled by their belly fat. Well, with the daily use of flax seeds, you are bound to see that belly fat disappearing. 

Another great explanation as to why and how flaxseeds are capable of promoting weight loss is their high fiber content. Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber within them, and if there is one thing that we do know is that fiber is the nutrient to look for whenever you want sustainable weight loss results (17).

By eating foods that are high in fiber, you will be able to feel full for long periods. One of the things that trouble us the most whenever we are trying to lose weight is the feeling of hunger and starvation. Although starving yourself is no healthy way to lose weight, you will probably experience hunger at the beginning. After all, you are just getting used to the calorie deficit. But you can always soothe your hunger by eating foods which are high in fiber. 

To keep you full for a long time, fiber creates a gel-like substance that covers the gut. It also slows down the food absorption in the colon. This now only does keep us full, but it also boosts the metabolism to burn more calories, contributing to the health of your digestive system. Plus, flaxseeds have been proven to have appetite-suppressing abilities, which prove helpful whenever we are trying to lose weight but struggle with frequent cravings (18).

We also mentioned flaxseeds being able to control your blood sugar levels and maintain them within the normal range, thus preventing diabetes type 2. Well, by maintaining good balance within the blood sugar levels and insulin levels, flaxseeds are also helping with weight management as well.

Not to mention the fact that flaxseeds are very low in calories while being incredibly nutritious. They also have very few carbs in them, which makes them weight-loss-friendly food. Flaxseeds will stimulate your body to burn more of the stored fats by not introducing enough carbs in your system, thus inducing weight loss.

Being rich in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids only add to their weight-loss inducing ability that they have. It is not uncommon for the present inflammation in the body to lead to weight gain and make the whole weight loss experience more difficult. So it is good to have something as powerful as flaxseeds to take care of and eliminate any present inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

How to incorporate more flaxseed in your diet

We said this once, but we will say it again – For flaxseeds to help you lose weight, you have to put in the effort and hard work in the process as well. Combing flaxseeds with a calorie deficit and physical activity is a formula that will result in the success that you will be proud of.

So now, let’s see how you can incorporate more flaxseeds into your daily diet. It is good to know that there are many options that you can explore and rely on, which can help keep things interesting and fun. Consider the following ways of incorporating more flaxseeds in your diet:

  • Sprinkle ground or whole flaxseeds to your morning oatmeal or cereal;
  • Mix one teaspoon of flaxseeds with mustard and spread it on a piece of whole bread;
  • Add flaxseeds to smoothies and acai bowls;
  • Sprinkle some flaxseeds to your soups and stews;
  • Toss some flaxseeds to your salad or mix them in your salad dressing;
  • Add flaxseeds to your baked goods such as banana bread, muffins, cakes, etc.
  • Use flaxseed oil instead of your usual oil of choice;
  • Take a flaxseed supplement in the form of a capsule or tablet.

Make sure to always use fresh flaxseeds. If you prefer using ground flaxseeds, then do ground them yourself, at home, when possible. When choosing to use flaxseed supplements, always search for the best, high-quality one, and do follow the provided instructions. 

We would also like to recommend a weight loss drink made by using ground flaxseeds. The ingredients that you will need are:

  • A teaspoon of ground flaxseeds
  • One lemon wedge
  • 200 ml of hot water

Mix the flaxseeds with the hot water well. Later add your lemon wedge and squeeze some of the lemon juice to your drink. Drink this weight-loss drink once a day to induce weight loss. You will feel as your metabolism has sped up, burning more calories per day, and you feel satiated for a longer period of time.

Conclusion

Flaxseeds have multiple health benefits regarding our heart, skin, and overall health of both body and mind. What you may do not know about flaxseeds is that they are also famous for their weight-loss inducing abilities. By keeping your full for longer, flaxseeds are making the weight-loss experience easier, keeping you away from any extra, empty calories that we all tend to binge on whenever we feel stressed out or unsatisfied with our weight loss journey. Give these little yet highly powerful seeds a try, and enjoy seeing your new body whenever you look in the mirror. 

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9
  2. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169414/nutrients
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56068/table/summarytables.t2/?report=objectonly
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3698061/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051327
  6. https://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(10)70455-4/pdf
  7. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/5/1171
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25238699
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25889554
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26854452
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22296388
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21088453
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808865/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767321/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30843767
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486042/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375225/
  18. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006969?via%3Dihub

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