Flaxseeds (also called flax seeds) have been around for a very long time and have been gaining popularity in many recipes. They can be used in baking, pancakes (ground flaxseeds in pancakes are really good!), and many other recipes. Lately, I’ve been looking at using flaxseeds in smoothies as an easy way to add omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are small golden or brown seeds that are the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). Adding them to your regular diet gives you many health benefits, including lower cholesterol, digestive health, and weight loss.
If you have any kind of digestion issues, try adding flaxseeds to your diet – and to your smoothies. The fiber and omega-3 fatty acids support digestive health and can reduce inflammation. Because of this, flaxseeds can be beneficial to people with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or other gut issues.
I’ll definitely be adding flaxseeds to my diet regularly because I tend to have digestive issues. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease around 20 years ago and although it is in remission I really do try to be kind to my gut. Over the past year or so I was diagnosed with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and have been on the low-FODMAP diet ever since – with varying degrees of success. Flaxseeds are low-FODMAP so maybe they will help get my gut irritation under control.
It’s worth a try, right?
Flaxseeds are also gluten free and are a great way to replace grains containing gluten.
Why use flaxseeds in smoothies
Flaxseeds will give your smoothie an omega-3 fatty acid, fiber, and protein boost.
Omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular and immune system health, brain and joint function, soft skin, and a lot more. Fiber supports a healthy colon, helps to regulate blood sugar, and makes you feel full for longer. When you feel full for longer you may snack less. This can help a lot when you are trying to lose weight.
They are practically tasteless – making them the perfect addition to any smoothie. If they have any flavor at all it is a mildly nutty flavor that blends well with any smoothie.
The fiber in flaxseeds turns into a gel in your smoothie, helping to thicken it. If you’re looking for other ways to thicken your smoothie, check out my guide 23 thickeners to use in smoothies that are not bananas.
1 tablespoon of whole flaxseeds contains:
- 55 calories
- Omega-3 (ALA): 147% DV
- Fat: 4.3 g / 6% DV
- Fiber: 3 g / 11% DV
- Protein: 2 g / 3% DV
- Vitamin B1: .17 mg / 14% DV
- Magnesium: 40.38 mg / 10% DV
- Manganese: .26 mg / 11% DV
- Phosphorus: 66.13 mg / 9% DV
- Calcium: 26.27 mg / 3% DV
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Flaxseeds also contain good amounts of potassium, vitamin B6, iron, zinc and copper.
- High in fiber: Flaxseeds contain high levels of the water-soluble fiber called mucilage. Mucilage forms a gel when wet that will help to thicken your smoothie. Mucilage helps keep food in your stomach longer, increasing the absorption of nutrients. Flax contains high amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber which supports colon health, fat loss, and the reduction of sugar cravings.
- Weight loss: The healthy fats and high amount of fiber in flaxseeds will help you to feel full for longer. This means you may snack less and consume fewer calories – helping you to lose weight.
- Lower cholesterol: The soluble fiber in flaxseeds trap cholesterol in the digestive system – making it unavailable to absorb. This can lower overall cholesterol.
- High in antioxidants (lignans): Flaxseeds are packed with antioxidants called lignans. Lignans are fiber-related polyphenols that provide health benefits such as anti-aging, hormone balance, and cellular health.
- High in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our bodies to function. Since we do not produce omega-3s we must consume them and flaxseeds are a great source. Omega-3 fatty acids help to support vision, immune system function and may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. The ALA fats in flaxseeds also benefit skin and hair health by providing essential fats and B vitamins. This can help reduce dryness and flakiness in skin and hair.
- Digestive health: One of the biggest benefits of flaxseeds is digestive health. The ALA in flaxseeds can help protect the lining and maintain the health of the digestive tract. It can help reduce digestive tract inflammation and some studies have shown flaxseeds to be beneficial to people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or other gut issues.
- Menopausal symptoms: Some women find relief from menopausal symptoms when taking flaxseed as an alternative to hormonal replacement therapy. This is because the lignans in flaxseeds have properties similar to estrogen. The lignans can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, or help menstruating women maintain cycle regularity.
- Inflammation reduction: Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is their anti-inflammatory properties. regular consumption of flaxseeds may help reduce inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.
How to use flaxseeds in smoothies
The tough exterior of whole flaxseeds is difficult for our bodies to digest, so most of it will pass through our system without much health benefit.
In order to get the full health benefits of flaxseeds, you’ll need to grind them up before adding them to your smoothie. You can buy ground flaxseed (sometimes called flax meal), or grind the whole seeds in a coffee or spice grinder.
Some people will put with whole flaxseeds into the blender with the other smoothie ingredients and blend. If you have a high-powered blender, this may grind the flaxseeds up enough to get the most nutritional benefit from them. You may end up with some whole flaxseeds, making your smoothie a little crunchy.
Adding pre-ground flaxseeds in smoothies helps to make sure you have the smoothest texture and most health benefits.
Whole flaxseeds last longer before going rancid than ground flaxseeds. You may want to buy flaxseeds whole and grind them just before putting them into your smoothie. Or, if you’re meal prepping, grind them in batches that will last for a week of smoothies.
Store your extra flaxseeds (ground or un-ground) long term in your freezer to help keep them from becoming rancid. For short term storage, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator.
Add 1 – 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to your smoothie to get their amazing health benefits.
Note: You can substitute flaxseed oil for flaxseeds to get the omega-3 boost, but keep in mind that you will lose the benefit of added fiber and protein.
Give flaxseeds a try in your next smoothie!
With all of these great health benefits, give ground flaxseeds a try in your next smoothie. Not only will you get a boost of omega-3s, protein, and fiber – they will also act as a thickener to give you a thick and creamy smoothie.
I’d love to hear about the recipe you added them in and how your experience was in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about how to create nutritionally balanced smoothies, download my free guide:
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