Flaxseed is a low-carbohydrate, high-fiber supplement that can be used to replace eggs in recipes. However, it’s often hard to find flaxseeds.
Flaxseed is often used as a thickener or a crust.
Luckily there are several alternatives that have similar nutritional benefits to this healthy seed!
You can use psyllium, hemp, or chia seeds instead.
What are Flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are the seeds of the flax plant, which grows in temperate regions around the world. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, as well as protein–a good source of all three macronutrients!
Nearly all the carbohydrates in flaxseed come from dietary fiber!
Flaxseeds have been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy for various ailments including constipation and menstrual problems.
Even with the high-fat content, you’re looking at mostly healthy fats. In an ounce of flaxseeds, you may have 12 grams of fat, but these 12 grams break down to 72% polyunsaturated fats, 18% monounsaturated fats, and 10% saturated.
There’s also an incredible number of macronutrients:
- Vitamins B5, B6
- Folic acid
Last, but not least, flaxseed has other health benefits that include lignans, zeaxanthin, antioxidants, and lutein.
It’s a popular substitute in many vegan and vegetarian meals as it can substitute eggs as a thickening agent. It’s also used as a crust on fried foods or desserts.
What Can I Substitute for Flaxseed?
In order to choose the best substitute, you want to consider how you were supposed to be using the flaxseed. For a simple thickening agent, there are other options like xanthan gum or guar gum. If you’re looking for some of the similar nutritional benefits, then consider some of the options below:
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and they also contain antioxidants. They’re a good source of calcium, iron, and zinc- even more so when you grind them up into a meal or flour! They’re the most similar, nutritionally, to flaxseeds.
Chia seeds have a mild flavor that can easily be incorporated into baked goods like breads and muffins. You can also add them to smoothies or enjoy them as an addition to your morning oatmeal bowl for some extra crunchiness (and health benefits).
As a binder, flaxseed is usually used to replace an egg with a tablespoon of flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. You can replace the flaxseed one-for-one with chia seeds in this case.
Ground chia seeds can also substitute flax seeds as a thickening agent in dishes such as soups. Again, you can substitute the same amount of chia seeds as you would use flaxseeds.
Keep in mind that chia seeds have a higher carbohydrate content.
2. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a great substitute for flax seeds because they’re high in protein and the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. They also contain magnesium, iron, and zinc–all nutrients that are important for good health.
They even have a similar nutty flavor with the crunchy texture that flaxseed adds to some dishes.
Hemp is an excellent source of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant to fight against free radicals that can damage cells (and thus contribute to aging). The best part? You can eat hemp seeds raw or cooked!
Hemp seeds are a common flaxseed substitute and have the most calories comparatively. However, they’re low in fiber and carbohydrates. The lack of fiber makes them unsuitable for use as a substitute in some recipes. They aren’t a binding agent.
To substitute hemp seeds, they are so close in texture and bulk, you can use them in a 1:1 ratio to flaxseed.
If you’re tracking calories, hemp seeds are higher in calories than flaxseeds.
Psyllium powder is the powdered husks of the seeds of the Plantago plant. These seeds are rich in fiber, the one ingredient that draws a lot of attention to flaxseeds. Psyllium seeds are almost 75% fiber which makes them a good substitute for flax seeds in the fiber department.
In regards to the other nutritional benefits though, psyllium is lacking. It’s still a great substitute as a ground meal in cooking and in gluten-free baking.
Much like chia seeds and hemp seeds, you can use psyllium in a 1:1 ratio to flaxseeds in most recipes.
The best time to use them is when flaxseed is used as a binding agent or egg replacement. The texture capabilities also make it a great addition to something you want to have a chewy texture, like crusts.
Psyllium powder is also quite shelf-stable. You can keep it in your pantry as a go-to flaxseed replacement in an emergency.
4. Almond Meal
A protein-packed alternative to flaxseed when used as a binding agent is almond meal.
Almond meal is a great binding agent that packs a lot of protein and good fatty acids to help your heart health.
Another binding agent when baking is yogurt. There’s no compromising on the moisture content in your baked goods if you use yogurt.
Yogurt also helps improve your gut health just like flaxseeds.
Obviously, you’ll want to pick a plain yogurt when using it in baking!
Tofu isn’t just for savory dishes, but desserts too. With a similar fat content alongside manganese, magnesium, iron, and zinc in comparable amounts, tofu is an excellent flax seed substitute in many recipes.
Tofu is an amazing binding agent that can also be used as a topping for teas and desserts. Since flax seeds are often used as a binding agent, tofu can be an excellent substitute.
Much like almond meal, tofu brings some extra protein with it as well as extra nutrients for a power meal.
When using tofu instead of flaxseed, use ¼ cup of tofu for each tablespoon of ground flaxseed. If you’re using the tofu as an egg replacement, don’t add the water you would add with the flax seed.
Tofu is an appropriate substitute in denser baked goods like brownies and quick bread or even smoothies.
7. Wheat Germ
Get the extra fiber you desire with a healthy dose of vitamins B and E with wheat germ.
Wheat germ is derived from the kernels of wheat that make the flour for your bread. It’s the part of the kernel that would sprout into a new plant if allowed to grow.
A single serving of wheat germ carries 246% of your daily dose of manganese and some healthy antioxidants.
It’s a simple substitute. You can use equal amounts of wheat germ as you would add in flaxseeds.
Flaxseed provides an incredible amount of nutritional support, it’s no wonder they’re so popular. But with their short shelf-life, you’re likely to run out at the most inopportune times.
Have no fear, as we’ve pointed out above, there are plenty of options to replace those flax seeds whether by choice or in a pinch!
Grab the chia seeds for the best option or choose another like tofu that would really enhance your dish.