Flax seeds are a source of healthy fats, fiber and phytochemicals. You must consume flaxseeds ground to benefit from their nutrients. You can incorporate ground flaxseed into baked goods, smoothies, cereal or on salads. No official recommendations for dosing of flaxseed exist, but you do want to consume enough for your health to benefit.
Consume 3 to 4 tablespoons of flaxseed daily to benefit from the fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. If you are taking flaxseed for constipation, consume 2 tablespoons daily -- toddlers should consume about 1 tablespoon per day. While there are no reports of flaxseed overdosing, you may experience excess gas and bloating if you eat large servings of the meal because of its fiber and fat content.
A 1-tablespoon serving of ground flaxseed contains 37 calories and 3 grams of fat. It also provides 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. In a serving, you get 1,597 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is also a source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and several B vitamins.
The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed promote heart health and brain development. The fiber in flax can help smooth digestion, protect colon health and reduce cholesterol levels. Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, phytochemicals that may play a role in preventing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
You can grind whole flaxseeds yourself in a coffee or spice grinder. Already ground flaxseed meal is also available. Because it is highly perishable and grinding makes the nutrients vulnerable to degradation, grind the seeds just before you consume them. If you do purchase meal, store it in a cool dry place or the refrigerator or freezer to keep it as fresh and pure as possible.