Flaxseed: A Heart-Healthy Booster

Written by Emily Boward
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

What is flaxseed anyways? Even the name may be new to you, but the tiny seed is gathering public attention due to its link to the prevention of heart disease. Where can you find it? You can pick up whole or ground flaxseed at your local grocery store in the organic section, for around $3/lb.

Whole flaxseed is an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber. Studies show that flaxseed can significantly lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol! Where could you toss of some these power-packed seeds? Start with topping your breakfast cereal, salad, or oatmeal!

Flax seed

Image by Emily Boward

Ground flaxseed (or flaxseed oil) is the richest plant source of a fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (we’ll call it ALA), essential to our body’s everyday function. ALA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3’s have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by slowing the growth rate of plaque in arteries, decreasing the amount of fat circulating in the blood, and lowering blood pressure. However, ALA is 3x higher is ground flaxseed than whole flaxseed, so be sure to pull out the coffee grinder! Sprinkle this golden powder in a smoothie, add to pasta sauce, or include in your next batch of homemade muffins or bread.

ground flax seeds

Image by Emily Boward

Flax seed is more than just a source of calories: it can improve cardiovascular health through a multitude of systems. With a subtle nutty flavor, it can be a great addition to many recipes. Experiment with flax in your next recipe! Share ideas with friends. How have you added flax to your diet?

Try this easy recipe at home to get started:

Homemade Flaxseed Granola

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup raisins
¼ cup dried sweetened cranberries
½ cup pumpkin seeds, raw
¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw
¼ cup whole flaxseeds
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
2 tbsp. canola oil
3-4 tbsp. honey, raw


  1. Preheat oven to 300º F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together until ingredients are lightly coated with oil and honey. Add more honey if necessary. It will be a little sticky and messy!
  3. Lay out on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake for 10 min, or until very lightly toasted. Let cool before serving or storing.
  4. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.


American Heart Association. (2010, September 8). Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp
Pan, A., Yu, D., Demark-Wahnefried, W., Franco, O., & Lin, X. (2009). Meta-analysis of the effects of flaxseed interventions on blood lipids . American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(2), 288-297. Retrieved from https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/2/288.full

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