You’ll find loads of nutrition packed inside this tiny seed.

Flaxseeds may be tiny, but they pack a powerful nutrition punch.

Flax is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps protect the heart. One tablespoon of whole flaxseeds provides 3 grams of fiber, helping to lower cholesterol levels as well as promote healthy digestion. Flax is also high in lignans, a phytochemical that may help protect against breast cancer.

Use these tips to help you add two to three servings of flax to your daily diet:
  • Jennifer Neily, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, of Dallas, Texas, calls whole flaxseeds “nature’s fast food” because of their effect on digestion. She adds whole flaxseeds to oatmeal or yogurt and even sprinkles them on salads.
    To get the benefit of the ALA in flax, on the other hand, use ground flaxseeds or flax oil. The hard hull of the flaxseed resists digestion, making the beneficial fatty acids unavailable.
  • Add ground flax to a favorite smoothie recipe to add a nutty taste.
  • Stir ground or whole flaxseeds into hot cereal, adding a bit more liquid since the fiber in the flax will absorb extra liquid.
  • Ayla Withee, RD, LDN, of Eat Simply nutrition services, mixes flax oil with cider vinegar to make a quick and tasty salad dressing.
  • Replace one-half of the oil in muffin or quick bread recipes with ground flax. According to Peggy Korody, RD, CLT, of RD4Health Nutrition Counseling, LLC in Rancho Santa Fe, California,you can substitute 3 tablespoons of ground flax for 1 tablespoon of oil. You’ll add fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids to your favorite baked goods.
  • Substitute 1⁄4 cup ground flaxseeds for 1⁄4 cup of the flour in batters for pancakes, muffins, and nut breads.
  • Marina Stauffer, RD, CDN, of Northport, New York, makes a delicious snack or dessert by covering a banana in nut butter then rolling it in ground flax or sprinkling it with whole flaxseeds. Stauffer also recommends spreading nut butter and ground flaxseeds on whole grain toaster waffles for a fast and delicious healthy breakfast.
  • Stir 1 to 2 teaspoons of flax oil into your favorite yogurt for an added omega-3 boost.
  • Add ground flax to a favorite casserole recipe, such as meatloaf, suggests Lori Auerbach Sullivan, MS, RD, of One Source Nutrition in Connecticut.
  • Substitute ground flaxseeds for the “crunchies” that come with some types of yogurt.
    Flax absorbs 10 to 12 times its weight in water, which means it’s essential to increase your water intake whenever you add whole or ground flaxseeds to your foods.
    Store whole flaxseeds in the freezer and grind only the amount you need for one day to prevent rancidity. Store flax oil in a dark bottle in the refrigerator and use within six weeks for the best flavor.