What is flaxseed? How do you use flaxseed? And what's the difference between flaxseed and flax meal?
Flaxseed is a superfood! It's nutrient-dense, plant based, versatile, and even useful. Cultures have used the seed throughout time, but it's currently trending as folks rediscover its healing properties and luminous effects on skin health. Discover why flaxseeds can lead to healthier, glowing skin - and how you can enjoy this ultimate, plant-based superfood in your diet.
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Flaxseed isn’t just a superfood. You can use it to make anything from clothing to paint. Seriously! Every part of this incredible seed can be used - that’s probably why its Latin name, Linum usitatissimum, directly translates to, “very useful.”
Sure, it's currently enjoying its moment as a trendy superfood to sprinkle on avocado toast and vegan acai smoothie bowls, but flaxseed has been cultivated since the dawn of civilization.
This little seed is nutrient dense, and loaded with fiber. What is flax meal you ask? It's just ground up flaxseed. Today, this seed being re-acknowledge again for its healing properties. Don't worry, we'll answer your burning questions, like how do you use flaxseed and flax meal?
Just 1 Tablespoon of flaxseed contains an abundance of fiber, protein, Omega-3s and vitamins. But how the heck do you eat this superfood?
Grind it up:
Ground flaxseed (known as flax meal) is best because our bodies are not able to break down whole flaxseeds. No harm is done if you eat them whole… they will just come out the other end intact - that means fewer nutrients were absorbed by your body.
You can buy flax meal (ground flaxseed) but the best way to consume flax is freshly ground. The good news is this is easy to do at home.
You can grind flax in your coffee grinder, blender, or food processor. Store it in your refrigerator to keep it nice and fresh. I recommend pre-grinding your flax before adding it to smoothies because once flax absorbs liquid, it is less likely to break down as easily.
Sprinkle it on… anything!
Flaxseed has a very subtle and nutty favor which is relatively tasteless ,which means it goes well with anything because it'll never overpower your dish.
Sprinkle it on a salad
Sprinkle it on your plant-based pancakes
Sprinkle it on your vegan avocado toast
Sprinkle it on fiber filled oatmeal or cereal
Sprinkle it on a plant based Buddha Bowl
Sprinkle it on a vegan pasta dish
Sprinkle it on vegan nice cream
Sprinkle it on your WFPB sandwich
Sprinkle it… well, you get the point
Use it as an egg replacer
Love to bake? Try this cholesterol-free egg replacer with just 2 ingredients: ground flaxseed and water.
Mix 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 Tablespoons of warm water. Mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it reaches an egg consistency. Use 1 Tablespoon of flax per 1 egg in the recipe. Flax makes a fantastic egg replacer in pancakes and french toast, too! That makes eating plant based (or mostly plant based) a heck of a lot easier!
To thicken your smoothies and soups:
Blend into your vegan smoothies, plant based salad dressings, or even soups to thicken.
97% of Americans are fiber deficient. What??? And here we are worrying about protein deficiency [insert eye roll].
So why does it matter if we're fiber deficient? Well, our gut microbiomes run primarily on fiber. Fiber promotes good bacteria growth. When we consume fiber, our gut produces short-chain fatty acids that aid in the growth of the cells that line our colons, suppress inflammation, and fight disease.
Without fiber, we can't feed our good gut bacteria, resulting in dysbiosis, which is an overgrowth of bad bacteria. This overgrowth can lead to inflammatory disease (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for starters).
Good bacteria like butyrate, on the other hand, has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. And fiber promotes the growth of butyrate-producing bacteria, so no surprise: vegetarians are found to have a much higher concentration of butyrate-producing genes.
A balanced gut biome also means clearer, brighter skin. So load up on fiber to get luminous, even-toned radiance, and to promote hair strength and growth.
Fiber also helps to regulate blood sugar. That’s why when your 5-year-old drinks a bottle of apple juice they are off the wall, but if they eat an apple they have a more even, sustained energy. Fiber helps you to release glucose into your bloodstream slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes, and the storage of glucose as fat on the body.
Bottom line: fiber is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. It reduces your chances of heart disease and colon cancer, it regulates bowel movements and relieves constipation, it adds years to your life and lowers cholesterol levels, it regulates body weight. You get the point!
Flaxseed is one of the richest sources of Omega-3, ALA fatty acids, which is the most common kind of Omega-3 in your diet. This nutrient helps reduce blood pressure and artery inflammation, and some studies have found a correlation between ALA and slower tumor growth and formation.
Because of its positive effects on cardiovascular health, ALA fatty acid may reduce your changes of heart disease and stroke, which are both top causes of death in the US. The best part is, you don’t need to scarf down cups of flaxseeds to see results. Just 1 tablespoon of flaxseed has 1,597 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids which is more than 300% your RDA.
Omega-3s are also important for glowing skin. These fatty acids maintain your skin's structure by reducing inflammation while preventing damage from external factors. Consume at least 1 Tablespoon a day to promote a natural and healthy glow.
Other nutrients per Tablespoon of flaxseed:
Protein: 1.3 grams
Fiber: 1.9 grams
Total fat: 3 grams
Omega-3 fatty acids: 1,597 mg
Vitamin B1: 8% of the RDI
Vitamin B6: 2% of the RDI
Folate: 2% of the RDI
Calcium: 2% of the RDI
Iron: 2% of the RDI
Magnesium: 7% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 4% of the RDI
Potassium: 2% of the RDI
Flaxseed and Enhancing Your Natural Beauty
Remember those Omega-3s that help with inflammation? Their anti-inflammatory properties also prevent damage to your skin and promote hair growth. Your body actually heals faster, which means fewer rashes and less acne. Flaxseeds also contain high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Staying hydrated is natural beauty 101 and flaxseed will help you easily meet your hydration goals. How? It has water retention abilities to keep you hydrated and actually help your skin retain moisture. Goodbye dry skin! And consuming 2 Tablespoons of flax a day helps to reduce acne, even out skin tones, and promote a healthy glow. So eat your flaxseeds (plus these other plant-based foods for healthy skin and hair!).
Just 1-2 Tablespoons a day of flaxseed can lead to dramatic results!
- It's loaded in fiber to help restore gut health and a balanced gut biome means brighter, healthier skin (not to mention reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, even cancer!)
- It's the perfect egg replacer for your vegan baked goods
- It reduces inflammation and prevents skin damage thanks to all its omega-3s
- It promotes hydration, which means radiant dewy skin
Don’t forget to get my exclusive download for readers of this post: 5 Foods for Radian Skin. Check it out below to get your natural glow on!
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.