To that end, she likes to add flax seeds to smoothies, sprinkle them on yogurt or oatmeal, or add them to baked goods. And, because of their ability to retain moisture (that mucilaginous gum at work again), she says they can even be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking: “Simply mix one tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons of water and let it sit. for several minutes.”
Panitz also advises getting creative with flax seeds. “When baking, you can replace up to half the amount of flour called for in cake, bread, and muffin recipes with flaxseed,” he says. Or “you can use ground flaxseed instead of breadcrumbs when making homemade meatballs or veggie burgers.”
It is important to remember that for fiber to do its job correctly, it must also be consumed with plenty of water; That’s what keeps it running smoothly. “So, don’t forget to increase your fluid intake when adding more fiber to your daily regimen,” says Panitz.
Land or whole?
When it comes to the question of whether it is better to eat flax seeds whole or ground, both experts agree: flax seeds are much more useful for the body when they are finely ground. “This is because it can be difficult for our digestive tract to break down the outer wall of the seed intact, so they pass through the digestive tract without us being able to get the full benefits,” explains Scheinman. “If you have whole flax seeds, you can easily grind them in a coffee or spice grinder.”
And keep in mind that flaxseed is a fresh food and all fresh foods can eventually go bad. “Any seed, whole or ground, contains fat that can oxidize over time when exposed to air,” Panitz says. “So, you’ll want to store flaxseed or ground flaxseed in a sealed container in the refrigerator to prevent it from going rancid and tasting unpleasant.”
Beauty and the seed
Eating flax seeds can also be a game-changer when it comes to improving skin health. A recent randomized controlled study found that adding flaxseed oil to participants’ daily diet decreased skin sensitivity and improved skin barrier function after just twelve weeks. “Flaxseed oil caused significant decreases in sensitivity, roughness, and flakiness, while softness and hydration increased,” she reports.
But what about all those viral videos proclaiming the revolutionary effects on skin and hair when flaxseed is applied topically? While there are not many studies on the benefits of flaxseed or flaxseed oil applied directly to the face, there have been some promising results from studies conducted on the application of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, which has many of the same properties. “Clinical trials for skin application are still limited,” explains a recent study. But it discovered that “omega-3 fatty acids can improve the skin’s barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation, attenuate dry skin and itching caused by dermatitis, accelerate wound healing of the skin and prevent the development of skin cancer” and that “all of these benefits can be achieved through different routes of administration, including topical application.”