Flax Seed Profile
Medically reviewed and cowritten by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
Flax Seed Benefits
Flax seeds may not seem like an obvious first food for your baby or kiddo, but they are incredibly versatile, nutrient-packed, and virtually tasteless, making them a great addition to many purees and baked goods. Flax seeds are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, a potent anti-inflammatory fat that protects our blood vessels for heart and brain health. They are high in lignans fiber-like compounds and are also packed with antioxidants to help our bodies fight off damaging free radicals and disease. In addition to helping ward off disease, flax seeds benefit the digestive tract because of their mucilaginous properties, allowing them to gel while passing through the intestines. This helps food pass through the intestines and reduces the risk of colon cancer. Flax seeds need to be consumed in their ground form instead of whole as our bodies cannot digest the whole ones. Baby and kiddo will be getting a big boost of fiber, anti-inflammatory fats, and antioxidants, and they won’t even know they’re there!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FLAX SEEDS
These seeds are tiny but mighty in terms of nutrition, making them a great food to add into your baby’s diet.
- They are high in fiber to aid in digestion and keep constipation at bay.
- They are high in ALA Omega 3 fatty acids which may protect the heart, and are somewhat converted into EPA and DHA Omega 3’s, which are important for brain health and development.
- Flax seeds have a variety of B vitamins to convert the food you eat into energy.
- Contain zinc for growth and development and supporting the immune system.
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Flax Seeds
Thiamin – This B vitamin is essential for your baby’s brain development and aids the normal functioning of the nervous system, muscles and heart
Vitamin B6 – needed to metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates and helps form a healthy brain
Folate – another B vitamin! Folate helps to build a healthy brain and support a healthy nervous system
Vitamin B5 – also known as pantothenic acid, this vitamin is essential for the production of hormones and cholesterol and for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Niacin – another B vitamin, niacin helps keep skin and gyms healthy by maintaining good blood circulation
Manganese – a potent antioxidant, manganese helps to protect cells from damage
Magnesium – very important mineral that keeps bones strong, the heart rhythm steady and supports the immune system
Phosphorus – this mineral is crucial for building baby’s bones and teeth
Copper – this trace mineral (needed in small amounts) is essential for forming red blood cells and boosts your body’s ability to mend tissues
Selenium – another trace mineral, selenium supports the immune system and healthy thyroid function
How to Select and Store Flax Seeds
Flax seeds can be purchased either whole or ground. However, our bodies have difficulty breaking down whole flaxseeds, which tend to pass through our digestive system and come out whole. Pre-ground flax seeds have a much shorter shelf-life than whole flax seeds, so purchasing whole seeds and grinding them before use is recommended. The pre-ground variety will last about 6-16 weeks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, whereas whole seeds will typically last 6-12 months being stored the same way.
To prepare flax seeds, grind them in a coffee, seed, or spice grinder to enhance digestibility. Adding flax seeds to baked goods is a great way to increase the fiber and antioxidant content. Baby and kiddo will reap the many health benefits from flax seeds when they are added to their favorite baked goods or purees, and they may not know they’re eating them!