Are flax seeds good for me?

Whole and crushed flax seeds in wooden scoops on old wooden table

BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

Flax seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids in particular. Omega-3 fatty acids are the type found in fish oils.

It’s recommended that we eat a portion of oily fish a week to benefit from these and help maintain our heart health. For people who don’t eat fish, nuts and seeds are an alternative omega-3 source. But this is a different type of omega-3, which may not have the same heart-health benefits.

Flax seeds are often the subject of dramatic health claims, some of which lack strong evidence. But they can still be a healthy choice.

Swapping foods high in saturated fats for foods with unsaturated fats helps lower cholesterol levels. Switching foods like cakes, biscuits and chocolate for nuts and seeds is a way of doing this.

Eating ground flax seeds gives you more benefits than whole seeds.

Victoria Taylor

Flax seeds come in brown and golden varieties, which are nutritionally similar. Eating ground flax seeds gives you more benefits than whole seeds, as whole seeds remain undigested and pass through the system.

A 30g portion provides 153kcal and can be added to salads or smoothies, or sprinkled onto porridge.

You can also buy flaxseed oil. You should treat this as any other fat and only use it in small amounts, as it is a concentrated source of energy containing 9kcal/g.

Victoria Taylor

Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than ten years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.

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