Flaxseed, the humble little brown seed with a nutty flavor, is a powerhouse in the nutrition world. It’s able to reduce blood pressure, decrease risk of heart attacks and stroke, improve skin quality, help control blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, and prevent breast and colon cancer—all in a single seed! Not only that, it strengthens the immune system, aids in digestion and supports healthy joints.
But what makes flax so powerful? Flaxseed contains high concentrations of alpha linoleic acid, a form of omega-3 fatty acids, which serve as the basic building blocks of the cell walls. Additionally, flax seed is high in lignans, powerful antioxidants known for alleviating menopause symptoms and fighting breast cancer. There are three forms of flaxseed, making it easy to incorporate into your diet.
While available in capsule form to be taken as a supplement, flax oil is best consumed as a food to get the most benefits from it. Many nutritionists often recommend purchasing the oil and storing it in the refrigerator, consuming a daily intake of two tablespoons. You can add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie or substitute flax oil in the vinaigrette dressing for your salad.
Flax oil breaks down to trans fats when heated, so it should never be used in cooking. While lower in lignans then other forms of flax, the oil sometimes is processed to preserve the lignans. Check the label for details.
Whole seeds are sure to have all the nutritional benefits of flax. Simply add these to your granola or salads for a nutty flavor. If a little tough on the teeth, grind them in a coffee grinder and sprinkle on foods. One cautionary note: raw, whole flaxseeds contain chemicals that can affect thyroid function. To get around this, simply toast the seeds in the oven for twenty minutes at 250 degrees.
Ground flax meal is another option to the powerful nutritional value of flax. Add a tablespoon of it to your smoothies for extra fiber, or stir it into your oatmeal in the morning. Ground flax seed is easy to find in your grocery store. If you can, grab the organic version. I tend to get the finely ground variety because it disappears into almost any drink or food without changing the texture or taste.
Still not convinced? Three more reasons to add Flax seed to your diet: 1) it is a source of Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that supports heart health; 2) it is an excellent source of fiber, adding about 4 grams of fiber per two tablespoons; and 3) it is a great source of natural protein.
To your Health!
Gail Grieger, CMT, CFH
*Some parts of this post were from a publication of the AMBP.