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One Major Effect of Eating Flax Seeds, Says Science

The tiny seed could have major benefits for your longevity.

You may already know that flaxseeds are an easy way to add more fiber to your diet. Turns out, there's more to these nutrient-packed seeds than just helping you feel full and smoothing out your digestionthey could even help you live longer. Flaxseeds contain a plethora of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight off dangerous illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.

"Many people are surprised to learn that flaxseeds are rich in a beneficial form of omega 3 fatty acids. Fish has two forms of omega 3s—EPA and DHA. Flax seeds have another form, known as ALA," Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert, and co-author of Sugar Shock, told Eat This, Not That!. "ALA is an essential nutrient since we can't make it on our own. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed provide…2.8 grams of omega 3s."

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Compare that to the 1.5 grams of omega-3s in a 3-ounce serving of wild salmon. Casetty noted that, when your body doesn't get the omega 3s it needs, it "may promote low-grade, chronic inflammation that's tied to numerous health problems, including autoimmune inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and mood disorders."

Victoria Goodman, DSC, RDN, LDN, CLT added that the anti-inflammatory effects of the seed can also help fight off "certain cancers…and diabetes."

To maximize the seeds' health benefits, and for the most enjoyable eating experience, you're probably going to want to add it to your diet in the form of ground flaxseed meal, since our bodies have a tough time digesting the seeds whole.

"The seeds are so tough that the seeds can be passed through the system intact. This provides insoluble fiber, which is nice, but…ground flax meal contains the soluble fiber, which is beneficial to lowering cholesterol," says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RDN.

If you're not sure how to work ground flaxseed meal into your diet, start with these flaxseed buttermilk pancakes or this Whole30 grain-free oatmeal. Plus, for more on how omega-3 fatty acids could help you live your longest life, check out how Having Low Levels of This Nutrient Can Shorten Your Life, New Study Says. Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara
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