Eating Flax Seeds for Weight Loss

Many foods as touted as superfoods for weight loss, with one being flaxseeds. Also known as linseed, flaxseed, or flax, contains can be eaten whole, ground, or in oil form. Flaxseed can offer benefits for weight loss and supporting overall health.

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Nutritional value of flaxseeds

Seeds, in general, are packed with nutrients and flaxseeds are no exception. They are high in fiber and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and a complex polymer known as lignins. Adding flaxseeds into your diet boosts overall health and may assist with weight loss.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. A reputable study on omega-3 fatty acids and weight loss published in 2011¹ found no direct benefit, however, anecdotally many people associate omega-3 consumption with weight loss. Studies have, however, confirmed the overall health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, and improving heart health. While they may not help you to lose weight, the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds are worth including in your diet for overall health.


Lignins are a complex polymer that plants use to hold their structure. They are commonly found in the outer shell of seeds. Lignins have long been known to have health benefits due to their antioxidant properties.

A 2017 study² found that lignins may assist in controlling blood sugar in diabetics, as well as reducing cholesterol and suppressing adipose tissue development in obesity. While more studies are needed, the evidence shows that lignins support overall health and may promote weight loss.


Flaxseed contains high amounts of fiber, which helps to keep your digestive system healthy along with encouraging it to work harder, helping you to lose weight. High fiber foods also make you feel full faster and for longer, discouraging overeating. Adding flaxseed into your diet could assist with weight loss due to the benefits of fiber.

How can you add flaxseeds to your diet?

There are a number of ways you can add flaxseed to your diet³, including:

  • Mix ground flaxseed into a smoothie

  • Add a tablespoon to your breakfast cereal

  • Mix with mayonnaise or mustard for use in salads or other dishes

  • Mix into yogurt

  • Bake into cookies, muffins, and breads

  • Mix with breadcrumbs and use to coat chicken or fish

  • Sprinkle on cottage cheese or apple sauce

  • Use as a vegan egg substitute

Ground flaxseed is generally better digested than whole seeds which can pass through your system undigested. Both ground and whole flaxseed should be kept refrigerated, although high-quality whole seeds can also be stored in a sealed container in a dark, cool place in the pantry. If you have time, the best way to consume flaxseed for maximum freshness is to purchase whole seeds then grind them as needed.

Be wary of oral flax supplements. These are generally liquefied and put in capsules which removes much of the beneficial fiber found in flaxseed. Ground flax meal has a better nutritional profile. Ensure you also do not cook with flaxseed oil as it has a low smoke point which means it is not an appropriate oil for cooking.

When should you eat flaxseed to lose weight?

Flaxseed should be eaten as part of a balanced diet and overall weight loss plan. While it is not a miracle food on its own, it can offer health benefits.

If you are working with a nutritionist, discuss with them before adding a flaxseed supplement into your diet.

As flaxseed can increase your bowel movements, you may want to avoid eating it late at night in case it causes your body to wake you up during the night. For this reason, many people tend to consume flaxseed supplements in the morning. You should also consume plenty of fluid at the same time. If you are not well hydrated, the high levels of fiber can cause stomach cramps and constipation.

Who should not eat flaxseed to lose weight?

Flaxseed consumption is safe for most people. However, you should not eat raw or unripe flaxseeds as flax is mildly toxic and preparation is needed for it to be edible. You should avoid eating flaxseed⁴ if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding, as flaxseed contains phytoestrogens. Although no studies have confirmed negative effects, there is concern that they may cause hormonal issues.

  • You have a hormone-sensitive condition or cancer.

  • You have surgery, including weight loss surgery, scheduled within two weeks. This is particularly the case with flaxseed oil.

  • You are prone to gastrointestinal issues, as the high levels of fiber may exacerbate these issues. 

  • You have highly elevated triglycerides.

Some people may experience negative effects such as increased flatulence.

Also, flaxseed is a fairly common allergen. Watch for symptoms of a food allergy such as a tingling mouth, hives, swelling of the face, mouth, or throat, difficulty swallowing, nausea, abdominal pain, and hay fever-like symptoms when you first add flaxseed to your diet. Stop eating flaxseed immediately and see if your symptoms improve. If in doubt, talk to your doctor about an allergy test to make sure it is the flaxseed and not something else.

Whole flaxseed can be helpful for diabetics, if you are a diabetic, talk to your doctor before eating flaxseed. It may interact with your existing medications and should be integrated into your treatment plan rather than being added without consultation. Your doctor may or may not recommend that you eat flaxseed.

Where to buy flaxseed

You can typically find flaxseed at grocery and health food stores. If your grocery store does not sell ground or whole flaxseed, you could buy online. Amazon has virtually every kind of flaxseed and flaxseed supplement if all else fails.

Make sure to buy your flaxseed from a reputable provider and never eat whole or unripe flaxseed. You can also grow your own flax, but you will need a lot of plants to harvest enough flaxseed, so it is often better to buy a flaxseed product instead.

The lowdown

As flaxseed is high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignins, it can support weight loss and overall health when consumed correctly and in recommended amounts. While flaxseed is not a miracle weight loss cure, many people find it useful as part of their diet and exercise program for sustainable weight loss.

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