It may be tiny, but it’s mighty. The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust.
Additionally, flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance -- many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.
Yes, flax seed is high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese, but this little seed is just getting started. There are three additional nutrient groups which flax seed has in abundance, and each has many benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. In the quest to equalize the ratio of these two kinds of oils, flax seed can be a real help. Most of the oil in flax seeds is alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an omega-3 that is a precursor to the fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty cold-water fish (called EPA and DHA). Because not everyone is able to easily convert ALA into EPA and (especially) DHA, it is best not to rely solely on flax for your omega-3 intake. However, ALA also has good effects of its own.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a food higher in fiber -- both soluble and insoluble than flax. Fiber in the diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, and, of course, promotes proper functioning of the intestines.
Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances that tend to balance female hormones.