Better Choices: Flax Meal vs. Eggs

While eggs can be a nutrient-dense and healthy part of your diet (and one of the best protein sources available), not everybody can eat them. In fact, eggs are one of the most commonly allergenic foods out there. If you can’t or don’t eat eggs for whatever reason, flax meal can make a nutritious alternative in baking. 

Eggs function in baked goods as a binder, and flax meal can have the same effect if prepared correctly (more on this in a moment). Freshly ground flaxseed is ideal, and you can simply use a coffee grinder if you have one at home. Because of the delicate fatty-acid composition of flaxseed, pre-ground seeds have a high possibility of becoming oxidized (rancid), which is why fresh is best. However, if you only have access to pre-ground flax meal, that’s no problem. 

Short History of Flax 

Flaxseed is a small, brown seed that originates in the Middle East. Historically, flax has both culinary and textile use (seeds as food, stem fibers for linen), although today it is most commonly used for the nutritional benefits. Flaxseed is best consumed in its ground form, as the whole seed is not easily digested by the body.  

Health Benefits of Flaxseed 

While it is not nutritionally comparable to eggs, flaxseed offers its own unique and impressive set of health benefits. Check out the following:  

Supports Digestive Health

Flaxseed is made up of 29 percent carbohydrates, and a whopping 94 percent of those come in the form of fiber. This makes flaxseed a very low-carbohydrate food, as only a very small percentage of its carb content is actually digestible. Fiber is essential for healthy and regular bowel movements, promoting balanced and healthy gut flora, and for achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Include 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed daily to support digestion. 

Rich in Healthy Fats

Flax is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are well known for their anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, flaxseed is the best plant source available of these important fats, even more-so than chia seeds (which can also be used in place of eggs).   

Packed Full of Vitamins and Minerals

These tiny little seeds pack a strong nutritional punch, as they offer a wide variety of health-promoting nutrients. By including flaxseed in your diet, expect to get a good amount of manganese, copper, magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamin), molybdenum, and phosphorous.  

Helps with Weight Loss

Soluble fiber is also essential for weight loss, as it has been shown to help appetite control by making you feel fuller and experience less cravings. Also, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, flaxseed helps with weight management. 

Improves Heart Health

Largely due to flax’s omega-3 fatty acid content, along with its fiber and lignans, it has been found to support cardiovascular health when regularly included in the diet. One study found that flaxseed is able to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by up to 18 percent.   

How to Use Ground Flax Instead of Eggs in Baking 

Fortunately, replacing eggs with flaxseed in baking is pretty simple. For every egg that your recipe calls for, you will substitute one tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons of water. Depending on the amount of flaxseed and water necessary for your recipe, combine them together using a whisk or fork, and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Your end product will be a goopy substance that works perfectly as an egg replacement. 

And, here is a delicious cookie recipe using flaxseeds in place of eggs.  

Flax Cookie Recipe 

*recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker 

Makes about 25 cookies 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas 
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water, chilled/as described above) 
  • 1/2 cup almond butter 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or grass fed butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or grade B maple syrup 
  • 1 1/2 cup whole oats 
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (you can simply grind oats in a blender) 
  • 1/2 cup almond flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Optional: cinnamon, dark chocolate chips, chopped nuts 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Prepare your flax “eggs” using the method described above. Don’t forget to chill them for 15 minutes before using. 
  3. Mash your bananas well and combine them in a bowl with the flax mixture, almond butter, vanilla, and honey. 
  4. Add in your oats, oat flour, almond flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Mix well. 
  5. Mix in any optional ingredients you decide to add, and form cookies on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until done.