Flaxseed is gluten free and high in alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, lignins, and fiber (both soluble and insoluble). One tablespoon of flaxseed contains 1,560 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed may show promise in helping to prevent heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and, possibly, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Flaxseed lowers total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by its fiber content, which binds to bile salts and then is excreted from the body.
Benefits on glucose metabolism may also be due to its high fiber content. Soluble fiber delays postprandial glucose absorption in the intestine.
Do not eat raw or unripe flaxseed, which may contain potentially toxic compounds.
Avoid use during pregnancy and nursing because of its phytoestrogen content (lignans).
Flaxseed used as a high-fiber supplement may cause diarrhea or paradoxically worsen constipation and flatus; drinking more water may prevent the latter.