Nuts and seeds can seem like a bit of a minefield for keto dieters.
Many consider them a staple of the keto diet due to their high, healthy fat content, low carb content, and protective antioxidants.
On the flip-side, nuts and seeds can also be calorie-dense. If you choose the wrong ones or eat too many, they might be holding you back from ketosis without you realizing. Especially considering how convenient they are as a snack on the go.
There’s a trove of information on nuts and seeds online, which can give conflicting opinions without providing enough details.
In this article, we’re going to take an accurate, comprehensive look at flaxseeds, their health benefits, and how they can help you achieve ketosis.
What Are Flaxseeds?
If the name flaxseed is unfamiliar to you, you’ve probably heard it referred to by one of its other names: linseed or flax. You’ll definitely recognize the small, brown, teardrop-shaped seeds.
They’re most commonly found in multi-grain bread, nut butter, and nutritious energy bars, but their uses are nearly limitless.
One common mistake people make with flaxseed, however, is using the whole seeds in their recipes which will pass through the body without being properly absorbed. This minimizes their overall health benefits.
It’s recommended to consume flaxseed in a milled or ground form, and you can either source the pre-ground form or do it yourself with a basic coffee grinder.
Once you’ve got your flaxseeds all ground up, it’s as simple as adding them to the recipe of your choice. Being mostly flavorless, you can get as creative as you like with flaxseeds when using them to boost your diet!
For instance, this crunchy keto crackers recipe is mostly made of flaxseed!
The Benefits of Flaxseeds
Chia seeds have enjoyed the limelight in recent years for their health benefits because of their fiber, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids. But did you know that the humble flaxseed has long been celebrated for its health benefits?
Some of the important health benefits that make flaxseed a welcome addition to any healthy diet include soluble and insoluble fiber, lignans, and omega 3 essential fatty acids.
So how does that affect you?
Soluble and insoluble fiber are both key ingredients to a healthy body. Soluble fiber plays a role in reducing cholesterol levels and provides protection against heart problems and diabetes.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber play a role in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Not only that, consumption of fiber has been shown to increase a person’s sense of feeling full which helps reduce overall intake of food – which in turn aids in maintaining a healthy weight (5).
Lignans have antioxidant and plant estrogen properties. Research is currently being conducted into the health benefits of lignans in the areas of heart disease and different types of cancer including breast cancer and colon cancer.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are crucial to your body’s function. Research is investigating the positive role that omega 3 essential fatty acids play in preventing or reducing the effects of a broad range of health problems, including heart disease, depression, diabetes, dementia, and ADHD.
…that’s a lot of benefit to one small little seed!
Flaxseeds come with a plethora of health benefits for keto dieters, including but not limited to:
- Flaxseeds are high in dietary fiber (5.7g per 3 tablespoons) while being extremely low in net carbs (0.1 – 0.3g).
- The high Omega-3 fatty acid content of flaxseeds lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps protect your heart, along with the antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) (1).
- Lignans are plant compounds with antioxidant properties and have shown great potential in reducing the risk of cancer (2); flaxseeds contain between 70 to 700 more of these compounds than other plants.
- The combination of lignans with flaxseeds high soluble fiber content helps reduce both your total cholesterol level and the level of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in your body (3).
- The high lipid and fiber content of flax seeds means adding them to your food will make you feel full and stave off hunger cravings.
- Flaxseed will help lower your blood pressure and significantly reduce the risks of both heart disease and stroke (4) while maintaining your cardiovascular health.
How You Can Fit Flaxseeds into Your Keto Diet
The benefit of flaxseeds having an almost negligible net carb content is that you have a lot of flexibility with the amount you use each day.
Health benefits are noticeable from as little as 10 grams (1 tablespoon) per day.
The recommended daily limit for flaxseeds is 50 grams (5 tablespoons) per day, which gives you a nice buffer region to experiment with different uses without worrying about being kicked out of ketosis.
Flaxseeds are an extremely versatile cooking ingredient, and you can add it hundreds of recipes which you’ll find all over the internet.
As a seed, it makes a superb substitute for grains in baked goods. You can also use it to step up the nutrition of your keto-friendly pancakes, smoothies, soups, salads, and yogurts.
You can even use them as a nutritious sauce thickener! Best of all, flaxseeds are gluten-free, making them perfect for those on the keto diet with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity.
Are There Situations When You Should Avoid Flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds contain plant chemicals known as phytoestrogens which are believed to mimic estrogen in the body.
Since some types of cancer are estrogen-driven, research has been conducted to discover whether flaxseeds put some people at risk, although so far the results have been conflicting.
Although inconclusive, the following groups have been recommended to avoid flaxseeds:
- Women with a history of ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer.
- Women who’ve experienced polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis.
- Women on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
- Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene defect, as these defects result in a much higher likelihood of breast cancer.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women and adolescent women should limit their flaxseed intake to one or two times per week, rather than daily.
Conclusion: flaxseed is a keto-friendly seed!
Flaxseeds are an excellent, nutritious addition to virtually any diet and are a highly recommended food supplement.
Their high-fat-to-net carb ratio and high soluble fiber content are perfect for maintaining a state of ketosis. They also come with a variety of health benefits you’ll struggle to find in other superfoods.
The versatility of flaxseeds is what makes them a real winner—gone are the days of trawling the web for suitable recipes.
Of course, you can use pre-existing recipe, but you also have the freedom to quickly add a spoonful to whatever you’re preparing for an instant health boost.
As long as you don’t go overboard, making flaxseeds a part of your diet couldn’t be easier. Just remember to grind the little guys up to take full advantage of their amazing properties!
-  Pan A, Chen M, Chowdhury R, Wu JH, Sun Q, Campos H, Mozaffarian D, Hu FB. α-Linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Dec;96(6):1262-73. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.044040. Epub 2012 Oct 17.
-  McCann SE, Wactawski-Wende J, Kufel K, Olson J, Ovando B, Kadlubar SN, Davis W, Carter L, Muti P, Shields PG, Freudenheim JL. Changes in 2-hydroxyestrone and 16alpha-hydroxyestrone metabolism with flaxseed consumption: modification by COMT and CYP1B1 genotype. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Feb;16(2):256-62.
-  Kristensen M, Jensen MG, Aarestrup J, Petersen KE, Søndergaard L, Mikkelsen MS, Astrup A. Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depend on food type. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Feb 3;9:8. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-8.
-  Blondeau N. The nutraceutical potential of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid in reducing the consequences of stroke. Biochimie. 2016 Jan;120:49-55. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2015.06.005. Epub 2015 Jun 16.
-  Montmayeur JP, le Coutre J, editors. Fat Detection: Taste, Texture, and Post Ingestive Effects. Ch:15 Fats and Satiety. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Fr