Flaxseed Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits

Flaxseed annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Flaxseed—also commonly referred to as flax seed or linseed—can be a healthy addition to your diet. The small golden or brown seeds can be used to make flaxseed oil, tablets, extracts, flour, and food products like dressing. Flaxseed has been promoted as a nutritious and sometimes medicinal dietary aid for thousands of years, dating back to Hippocrates.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one tablespoon (28g) of whole flaxseed.

  • Calories: 55
  • Fat: 4.3g
  • Sodium: 3.1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Sugars: 0.2g
  • Protein: 1.9g

Carbs in Flax Seeds

There are two different types of carbohydrates in flaxseed.

Most of the carbohydrate in flaxseed is fiber. You'll benefit from almost three grams of fiber when you consume a single tablespoon serving of the whole seeds. That is 11 percent of the recommended daily intake for most adults. But the number will vary if the seeds are ground.

One tablespoon of whole flaxseeds provides almost 3 grams of fiber or 11 percent of your recommended intake. Fiber not only helps to boost digestive health, but fiber also helps to regulate blood cholesterol and boosts satiety—the feeling of fullness after eating.

The carbohydrate in flaxseed comes from sugar, but it is a very small amount. A tablespoon of whole seeds provides just 0.2 grams of naturally occurring sugar. 

The estimated glycemic load of flaxseed is zero. Glycemic load takes into account the serving size of a given food or beverage to estimate the food's impact on your blood sugar. It is considered to be more helpful than just using the glycemic index for people who are choosing foods based on their effects on blood glucose.

Fats in Flax Seeds

There are just over four grams of fat in a tablespoon of flaxseed and slightly less in a tablespoon of ground flaxseed. The fat in flaxseed is primarily polyunsaturated fat, which is considered to be a "good" fat. Polyunsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature and may boost heart health when you use it to replace less healthy fat (like saturated fat) in your diet.

There are two different kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and flaxseed contains both of them. You'll get 230 milligrams of α-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids in a serving of flaxseed. And you'll get 606 milligrams of linoleic acid or omega-6 fatty acid.

There is just under one gram of monounsaturated fat in a single serving of flaxseed and a very small amount (0.4 gram) of saturated fat.

Protein in Flax Seeds

Adding flaxseed to a salad or smoothie can help boost your protein intake, but not substantially. You’ll benefit from almost 2 grams of protein or about 4 percent of your daily target (if you consume a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet) when you consume a single serving of the seeds.

Micronutrients in Flax Seeds

Flaxseed provides important micronutrients. However, because the serving size is usually small, the nutritional boost you get from consuming the seeds will only put a small dent in your total daily vitamin and mineral needs.

You will get 11 percent (0.2 milligrams) of your daily recommended intake of thiamin if you consume a tablespoon of flaxseed and you follow a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet. Thiamin is a water-soluble B vitamin that is needed by the body to metabolize carbohydrate and branched chain amino acids. It is also vital for neural function. 

You’ll also benefit from about two percent daily recommended intake of niacin, vitamin B6, and folate.

In terms of minerals, you'll get about 13 percent (0.3 milligrams) of your daily manganese needs met and about 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium in a single serving of flaxseed. Other minerals in flaxseed include phosphorus (7 percent of your recommended daily intake), copper (6 percent), and selenium (4 percent).

Health Benefits

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are widely credited with aiding or even curing several ailments. Many people also believe that flaxseed products can reduce your risk for certain diseases. But—as is often the case—science supports some of the claims, but the hype may be somewhat exaggerated. 

Some flaxseed fans believe that the seeds or the oil (or supplements containing the products) can reduce hot flashes and breast pain, especially during menopause. The seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are similar to the hormone estrogen, making the claim believable. However, several sources report that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of flaxseed for these symptoms.

In addition, some arthritis sufferers take flaxseed for pain related to the condition. But again, there is insufficient evidence to believe that the seeds can provide relief.

Flaxseed is also sometimes used to treat acne, psoriasis, stomach upset, ADHD, bladder inflammation, diverticulitis, eczema, and even to treat certain cancers. Currently, there is little evidence to support these uses. However, the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine is funding research to understand how flaxseed may play a role in treatment for ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, asthma, and inflammation.

There is some evidence to support the role of flaxseed in the treatment of constipation. Flaxseed contains fiber, which can help improve digestion. However, research is mixed as to whether or not the products are effective. There is also some (limited) evidence to support including flaxseed in your diet if you are trying to manage diabetes or high blood pressure.

Common Questions

What is the best way to store flax seeds and how long do they last?

Store flaxseed in an air-tight container in your pantry or in a dark, cool cupboard. Properly stored, they should last up to 12 months. Flaxseed (ground or whole) can be frozen to extend their shelf life. Flaxseed oil should be stored in a cool, dark cupboard away from heat sources (such as an oven).

Are there different types of flax seeds or are they all the same?

You may find brown or golden flax seeds in your local grocery store. Flaxseed growers report that there is little difference nutritionally between the two varieties but golden flaxseed has a nuttier taste.

Should I grind flax seed?

You don't need to grind flaxseed. How you consume it is up to you. Grinding it doesn't make it healthier, but it may make it easier to add to beverages and recipes.

If you choose to grind your own (or grind it at your local market) you have the benefit of knowing the product contains only flaxseed and no filler.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Flax seeds are easy to toss into a cup of yogurt to provide a crunchy texture and boost of nutrition. They are also easy to throw into a smoothie, however, the seeds will add thickness to the beverage and can produce a gel-like consistency if you don't drink it right away.

Many people use flaxseed to boost the nutrition in recipes. You can use tips and tricks to add flaxseed to your diet, or try one of these delicious recipes:

Allergies and Interactions

The National Institutes of Health recommends that you do not consume raw or unripe flaxseeds because they may contain potentially toxic compounds. The Mayo Clinic suggests keeping your intake below 50 grams per day to stay safe—that's about 5 tablespoons. 

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, flaxseed contains at least five or six different allergens. There is also some concern about potential cross-reactivity between flaxseed and other allergens, including other seeds. It's important to talk with your healthcare provider if you suspect an allergy to flaxseed.

The Natural Medicines database suggests that taking flaxseed is likely safe for most adults when taken by mouth appropriately. However, they warn that consuming the seeds may be unsafe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Additionally, people with bleeding disorders, diabetes, gastrointestinal obstruction, hormone-sensitive cancers, hypertension, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure should speak with their healthcare provider before taking flaxseed. People who are on medication to manage any of those conditions should also exercise caution and speak to their provider before including the seeds in their diet.

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Article Sources

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