Benefits of Flax Seed, How to Grind/Store and How Much to Take Daily

Flaxseed (or linseed) is a very small shiny seed with a lot of great health benefits, from reducing cholesterol to improving blood sugar levels for diabetics. The reason why it’s a Superfood is because flax is very high in dietary fiber, it’s a plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids, and a high source of lignans (phyto-nutrients possessing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).

Adequate fiber in the daily diet is key for good digestive health.

Benefits of Flax Seed, How to Grind/Store and How Much to Take Daily

You can buy flax in a few different ways – in whole seed form, already ground into powder form (ground whole seeds) or as flax seed oil. While flax oil does have many health benefits, it is lacking the valuable fiber of the seeds themselves (because the seeds are pressed, separating the fiber from the oil).

Whole flax seeds contain both the fiber and oil, giving you all of the nutritional value in one. However, flax seeds need to be ground before eating so the body can absorb their nutrients. If not, they will simply pass through the digestive track in whole form and that means their nutrients will pass through too!

Mini-food processor to grind flax seed at home

The freshest way to consume your flax seed is to buy the seeds whole and grind them yourself at home. It’s the most inexpensive way to add them to your diet too. Look for organic whole flax seeds in the bulk food section of your local health food store or in your supermarket near the cereal or baking section. You can use either a mini-food processor or coffee bean grinder to grind your flax seed into powder form. Simply add the seeds to the grinder, and grind. You should add the seeds dry and end up with a dry powder. Do not add water to the grinder. Also, be sure that your grinder is clean before you start (clean out any coffee bean residue if using a coffee grinder). For an inexpensive mini-food processor, check on ebay or at local yard sales (many people sell them as ‘baby food makers’). I usually keep about a 2-4 weeks’ supply of ground flax seed in the refrigerator at any given time; that equates to 2 cups or almost 500ml.

Adding whole, unrefined high fiber foods to the diet can help strengthen the digestive system, decrease toxicity in the body, stabilize blood sugar levels, clear the skin and even improve kidney and liver function. It’s a small amount of time and money invested that offers a high return: your health!

Organic ground flax seed

Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature in a container or jar. When the flax seed is open (into a powder or pressed an oil), it becomes temperature-sensitive and will turn rancid if left at room temperature. Once ground, it is important to store your flax seed powder in the refrigerator (and preferably in a glass container).

If you are reading this article and have your freshly ground flax seed stored in the cupboard, please do not just move it to the fridge and think that it’s ok. It’s best to throw it away, grind a new batch and store the newly ground flax seed in the fridge. Store-bought ground flax seed should be stored in the fridge after opening.

Flax Seed FAQ:

How much ground flax seed should I eat every day?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended daily fiber intake is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. I was admittedly impressed to read the following statement in the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010): “Most Americans greatly underconsume dietary fiber, and usual intake averages only 15 g per day. Breads, rolls, buns, and pizza crust made with refined flour are not among the best sources of dietary fiber, but currently contribute substantially to dietary fiber consumption because they are ubiquitous in typical American diets. To meet the recommendation for fiber, Americans should increase their consumption of beans and peas, other vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other foods with naturally occurring fiber.”

Ground flax should be stored in a glass container in the fridge

2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed has almost 4 grams of total dietary fiber. I recommend that you start with adding 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed to your daily diet, and slowly increase to 3-4 Tbsp. per day. Some people consume 6 Tbsp. daily and are very comfortable with their digestion, often finding relief from constipation and other digestive problems just from the simple increase of fiber in their diet.

Imagine someone consuming 15 grams of fiber per day who adds 4 Tbsp. of ground flax or 8 grams of fiber to their daily diet: without changing anything else; they are now consuming 23 grams of dietary fiber daily! It’s so easy!

What if I buy a package of already ground flax seed? Do I store that in the fridge?

You can buy flax seed already ground. Be sure to store it in the fridge immediately upon opening the package.

Is it better to buy the light brown or the dark brown flax seeds?

The best type of flax seed to buy is 100% certified organic, of course! I’ve tried both the light (or golden) and dark brown flax seeds, and I do make a conscious effort to add variety into my diet so sometimes I buy the golden brown and sometimes I buy the dark brown. When I’m feeling a bit wild and crazy, I even blend them both together and store the mixture in the fridge!

Is it possible to eat too much flax seed?

I do think that any one food eaten in too much excess is probably not a good thing. The key to good health is variety and balance in the diet. In this case, if you were eating 10x-20x the normal recommended amount of daily dietary fiber, you may be in store for some serious buffalo-sized poo! As I said before, start with 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed daily and slowly build up to 3-4 Tbsp. with a maximum of 6 Tbsp. per day. Think nice human-size poo and you should be fine!

What about the fat content in flax seed?

This question always amazes me. It’s most often asked by my female clients who have been struck with the ‘no-fat’ or ‘low-fat’ mindset. These same women will turn down such a high nutrient-dense food like flax for fear of excess fat, but continue to indulge in a daily latte or afternoon chocolate bar. I am often left very perplexed by this logic!!

According to the USDA, 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed weighs 14 grams, has 75 calories, 5.9 grams of total fat and 3.8 grams of total dietary fiber. While true that ground flax seed does contain fat (5.9 x 9 calories per gram = 53.1 calories of fat per 2 Tbsp./75 calorie serving), it’s important to keep things in perspective. If you’re eating 53 calories of fat in a 1500 calories per day diet, that equates to 3.5% of total calories in fat. Move up to 4 Tbsp. per day and you’re at 7%. Now do the math on your latte and chocolate bar and factor in their nutritional value then re-evaluate who is your friend and who is your foe. The answer: 2-4 Tbsp. of ground flax seed is not a high-fat contribution to your overall dietary intake of food.

What about the photo-estrogen in flax seed – is it dangerous?

This is another important factor to consider and a question I get asked occasionally. Remember, we are talking about adding 2-4 Tbsp. with a maximum of 6 Tbsp. daily of ground flax seed. Keep in mind too that I am recommending the whole ground flax seed, and not the oil (which would be more concentrated in phyto-estrogens). It is true that flax seed does contain photo-estrogens but there are mixed reports on whether the estrogen from flax seed alone is affecting people’s glandular and hormonal systems. I do believe if you were eating a bucket of flax seed at every meal, this would be an important issue, but we are talking about a few spoonfuls, and the other health benefits of this natural, whole and pure food are major reasons to keep it in the diet.

Keeping variety in your diet is the best way to give your body all the important micro-nutrients it needs without over-whelming it with any excess amount of anything. Of course, if you have an estrogen-related health condition or specific medical concerns, it’s best to consult with your medical doctor.

  • Add 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed to your Green Smoothie daily.
  • Sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed onto a fresh fruit salad.
  • Mix 1-2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed into a homemade salad dressing or raw food veggie salad.

More on Superfoods:

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Jennifer Thompson has been working with raw food, juices, smoothies and detox for over two decades to help people heal. Today, she shares her expertise worldwide, offering lectures, workshops, training and one-on-one consultations at various health and detox retreat centers. She provides Iridology Readings & Health Coaching via Skype and Phone to clients and continues to educate, motivate and inspire others on their journey of healing. When she’s not working, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains, power-walking along the sea or globe-trotting to a new and exotic health destination.
36 replies
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Dear Suseela,

      I would recommend to focus on using your flaxseed every day and it will all be eaten long before it expires. Add 2 Tbsp. to a smoothie or juice daily. If you use it every single day, you will not have to worry about any expiration as it should be gone pretty quickly. When I grind fresh flaxseed at home, I make about a 1-2 month supply at a time and store it in the freezer.

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  1. sharmila subramanian
    sharmila subramanian says:

    Hi forr 2 tablespoon of flax seed must use whow many cup of water and what is the best time to drink.pls help me on this.pls reply me by mail.thanks

    Reply
  2. Nilesh
    Nilesh says:

    I started taking 1 teaspoon for 1st 20 days thrice a meal or at least twice. I had roasted the dark brown flax seed found in mumbai and consume 2 teaspoon after 3 times a day immediate after heavy breakfast, lunch and dinner. I chew the seed thoroughly. Let’s see the benefits.

    Dear Jennifer I am suffering from severe cervical spondylosis. I am unable to bend my head downwards, not able to write for more then 5 mins, My work needs driving motorcycle/bike for atleast 1 hour daily. I am into sales. It’s a severe pain. Standing for few mins causes so much pain on my legs and whole spine i may not be able to explain you. Doctor’s say stop riding bike as the roads are very difficult here, but I have no choice but to commute on the byke. What’s your advice ??

    Reply
  3. Karthick
    Karthick says:

    I’ve been through this constipation problem and got relieved through this flax seed. I’ve used raw and roasted forms of flax seed. I used to have it after each meal and don’t forget to drink plenty of water as they will help flushing out the waste matters.

    Reply
  4. Debashis Bose.
    Debashis Bose. says:

    I’m 81, male, Indian, Bengali. I’m having pain in knees, wrists & all joints, also in the thigh, calf muscles, almost all over the body.
    Pl. help, preferably home cure.

    Reply
  5. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I’m curious if the fact that the oil in ground up flax seeds in dispersed in that massive amount of smily mucilage reduces the body’s ability to effectively absorb it.
    I wonder if it isn’t better to eat the oil alone and swallow the rest of the seed separately, later. I am looking at a nifty hand oil press to separate it out, and wondering if I need to.
    Any opinion? Think the oil gets trapped by the slime?

    Reply
    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      I just blended some up with a lot of water and can see the slime issue will not be an issue at all. I am remembering the days when I used to chew them up, and that was some seriously thick stuff. With more water, it’s quite runny and I can see the oils should be available.

      Reply
  6. V.
    V. says:

    Thank you so much for the information about flaxseed you really know your stuff
    I feel so much better about taking it.

    Reply
  7. Ashok Sharma
    Ashok Sharma says:

    I m a insulin dependent diabetic and undergone by-pass surgery in 2009. Constipation and frequent bowl movement is my other problem. Kindly suggest use of flaxseed keeping in view the Indian conditions.

    Reply
  8. Madhan
    Madhan says:

    Can I take flaxseed which I grind already and I am daily using it with hot water of 2 tsbp by morning and evening…
    Is it correct which I am using @ present

    Reply
  9. T
    T says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I have been adding 1 tablespoon of organic flax seed (which I grind up) to my morning fruit smoothie for 8 days now. I noticed on day 3 that I was not sleeping well, was very irritable, and feelings of being very overwhelmed. It was as if I was having PMS symptoms (which they weren’t because it wasn’t anywhere near that time) that just kept getting worse and worse. I have not been able to relax this week and my husband is worried for me. Then, I made a silly mistake and had a severe crying and anxiety attack. I haven’t had these for years. I used to struggled with severe anxiety, but have it mostly under control now BUT this week was such a regression. I don’t take any medication; except levothyroxine for hypothyroidism and a multivitamin. I exercise, have a healthy low BMI, and am mostly healthy, but I just wanted to try flaxseed for the cancer prevention benefits and to add some thickness to my smoothie.

    So, do you think this could be the flax seed? I don’t want to think so, but I cannot see what else has changed in my life to make me feel this bad. I don’t have any physical symptoms, just severe anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, can’t sit still, crying uncontrollably, ect. I have taken a couple of my friend’s anxiety pills to help. If it is the flax seed – what about it would make this happen?

    I greatly appreciate your help!

    Reply
  10. Vicky
    Vicky says:

    Hi Jennifer, can you tell me how much omega 3’s are in a teaspoon of flax meal? I am mostly vegan,I eat some cheese but no milk,no eggs or any other dairy. I need to get enough omega 3’s and also omega 6’s into my meals daily. I have mental health issues,chronic depression and chronic anxiety plus I had a j pouch surgery for my severe ulcerative colitis and have poor absoption-have to have things ground up to maximize absorption. Also I’m on synthroid(synthetic hormones)for my hypothyroidism,plus I’m on a low-FODMAP diet for my tummy issues,digestion. I bought the cuisinart spice and nut grinder so I’ll be eating yummy healthier meals from now on! Thanks Vicky (I’ll appreciate any suggestions with regards to heath ☺)

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Vicky,

      You may want to try something like UDO 3-6-9 oil or consider taking a good quality fish oil supplement (since you eat cheese you’re not a vegan in which case fish should be ok). To be honest, you’ve got a pretty long list of imbalance and I don’t think it is all caused by omega 3 deficiency. I would guess that you have some food AND food additive sensitivities and also need to work on restoring gut health naturally with some detox and focus foods. In short, you are an excellent candidate for health coaching so you have professional support and guidance and no more wasting time on multiple things that you really don’t need. If this is something that you’re interested in, please contact me and I can tell you more about how I work with people just like you!

      Many blessings to your health,

      My best,

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Manish!

      I would recommend the take flax seed DURING your meal, that is ADD it to your food! Whether it be a salad, steamed veggies or green smoothie – you have many options for easily adding ground flax to a meal. That way, you don’t even notice that it’s there and it’s much easier to stay with the habit of adding it.

      Many blessings to your health!

      My best,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  11. Julia Hopkins
    Julia Hopkins says:

    Great article and I have been inspired and started incorporating flaxseed into my diet as a prediabetic menopausal woman. Thank you. However, I have one little issue with your math. Wouldn’t 4 Tbsp of flax seed be only 8 grams of fiber you’re adding to your diet? Not 16 grams as stated, since there is 4grams of fiber for every 2 Tbsp. just wanted to make sure. Thanks for the inspiring article though.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Julia,

      Thanks for your eagle eyes – yes, you are correct! I’ve updated the post to be 8 grams added daily in my example.

      Wishing you all the very best for a healthy & joyous day!

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  12. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    .so when I take flax seed an I take it with water an do I take it all at once or do I take it a tbsp at a time .Or if I mix it in my salad do I put it all in at once

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Sarah,

      We’re only talking about 2 Tbsp. per serving …I think it’s pretty manageable to put 2T into a glass of water, smoothie or juice all at once or 2T into a salad at once. It’s kind-of splitting hairs (or seeds!) to worry about something like “Do I put 1T into water and 1T into salad”? If this is your biggest problem, then you are definitely doing better than everyone else! Why not live on the edge and put 2T into your water and 2T into your salad! Your bowel movements will be epic and that’s a real relief!!

      My best,

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  13. Anoop
    Anoop says:

    Hiiii.. I just brought flax seeds, grind them and stored in the refrigerator.. i have grinded about 200g of flax seeds, for how long can it be stored in the refrigerator?? i have read in few other sites where they mentioned it should be consumed within a week.. i find, its difficult to consume such a lot of powder in a week.. can you suggest for how long can i store it?

    Reply
    • Jennifer Thompson
      Jennifer Thompson says:

      Hi Anoop!

      I usually keep about a 2-4 weeks’ supply of ground flax seed in the refrigerator at any given time; that equates to 2 cups or almost 500ml. If you are using it every day, then your 200ml supply should be finished in 2 weeks anyway. I’d say you’re probably splitting hairs (or seeds!) to worry about it. In reality, the ground flax seed can safely be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 3 months.

      My best,

      To your health,

      Jennifer

      Reply
  14. Victoria C.
    Victoria C. says:

    I made flax meal bread today from a recipe I found in the web…it was super easy and a delicious addition to my LCHF lifestyle. This will hopefully help with those cravings for the texture of bread and help me stay regular as well.

    Reply
  15. Dave
    Dave says:

    Ground flaxseed in pancakes is fantastic. I substitute flax for 1/3 of the wheat flour. And, considering how many pancakes my children consume, I feel much better about it now knowing that I’m removing something with mostly starch, and adding something with notable protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
    I’ve also noticed that the various brands of ground flaxseed have markedly different fat levels, so I check the label more than I did in the past.

    Reply
  16. zerlean
    zerlean says:

    Hello, after reading your info, I did learn more about flax seed..
    I’m starting to juice and I have the NB that can grin up the flax seed,
    what I want to know is, what fruit or veg’s to use with it.

    Reply

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