No single food on its own can cause you to lose weight. A nutritious, reduced-calorie diet paired with regular exercise is the only proven method for weight loss. But certain foods can help you control your appetite so you eat less and reduce your calorie intake. As a rich source of fiber, flaxseed may be a useful food to include in your weight-loss diet.
A product of the Linum usitatissimum plant, flaxseeds, also called linseeds, have culinary and medicinal applications. The seeds are used to relieve digestive issues, reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure and treat coronary artery disease. According to MedlinePlus, the seeds are also used to treat diabetes, obesity and weight loss. The seeds have an appealing nutty flavor and work well in a range of recipes; however, the body cannot digest them whole, so they must be ground before consumption. This enables the body to access the valuable nutrients the seeds contain.
Fiber and Satiety
Flaxseeds are a rich source of fiber in a small package, which is the primary reason they may aid weight loss. Insoluble fiber, one of the two types of fiber, adds bulk to your food so that you can eat more without taking in many more calories. The other type, soluble fiber, swells when it comes into contact with water or stomach fluids. This leads to a greater feeling of fullness. Soluble fiber also helps delay stomach emptying, which means you feel full for a longer period of time after eating. One-quarter cup of ground flaxseed contains almost 8 grams of a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is 32 percent of the daily value for fiber.
What the Research Says
In a study published in "Appetite" in April 2012, subjects were given either a flax drink or a flax tablet after an overnight fast. A control group was not given a supplement. For two hours after taking the supplement, they were asked to rate their appetite sensations using visual analog scales. They then ate a lunch meal so that researchers could asses energy intake. Both the flax drink and the tablet encouraged a sensation of fullness and satiety and led to a "significant" decrease in energy intake over a control group. Thus, consuming a dose of flax before or with a meal may help you reduce your calorie intake and lose weight.
Including Flaxseed in Your Diet
Use a coffee grinder to grind flaxseeds at home, or buy them already ground. Stir ground flaxseed into your morning oatmeal, add them to baked goods or blend them into a green smoothie. You can make an egg substitute for baking by mixing 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water for every egg you want to replace. Try coating chicken breast or tofu filets with ground flaxseed and baking for a healthy dinner.
- MedlinePlus: Flaxseed
- EatingWell: Q. Are Store-Bought Pre-Ground Flaxseeds as Nutritionally Effective as Buying Whole Seeds and Grinding Yourself?
- MedlinePlus: Soluble Vs. Insoluble Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seeds, Flaxseed
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: a Food Labeling Guide
- Appetite: Flaxseed Dietary Fiber Supplements for Suppression of Appetite and Food Intake
- The Kitchn: Egg Substitutes in Baking? Try Flax Seed!