Nov 3, 2010

Flax Seed 101

Flax is a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years by many civilizations with noticeable health benefits and no artificial drug side effects.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids: "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans: which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities that help prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber: As a whole grain, flax contains high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber
Your body cannot make the essential fatty acids, Linoleic (Omega-6) or Linolenic (Omega-3), from other elements; instead, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. Research has indicated that we consume too much Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s, but flaxseed contains these essential fatty acids in perfect balance.

In proper balance, omega-3’s and omega-6’s work to form the membranes of every cell in your body, play a vital role in the active tissues of your brain, and control the way cholesterol works in your system.

How to use...
You should grind flaxseeds to get the most nutritional value--otherwise the whole seed is hard to digest for your body. Or you can get the oil or capsules. But I'd just use a coffee/seed grinder (about $15 and can grind nuts too--whether or not you do coffee) in order to enhance their digestibility and therefore their nutritional value.

And store them in the fridge or freezer whole, so they don't go rancid. Once you grind them, you should try to use them right away, because like whole grain flour, the nutritional value starts decreasing once ground.

If adding ground flaxseeds to a cooked cereal or grain dish, do so at the end of cooking since the soluble fiber in the flaxseeds can thicken liquids if left too long. In fact, you can even use flax seed as an egg substitute (gets really think like a gel) at a ratio of 1:3 (ex: 1T flax : 3T water)!

A Few Ways to Eat Flax:
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal
  • Add a spoonful or two into your homemade muffin, cookie or bread recipe
  • Add a spoonful to pump up the nutritional volume of your breakfast shake or smoothies
  • To give cooked vegetables a nuttier flavor, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on top of them
  • Add a spoonful or two to a meatloaf or to panko crumbs/breading topping
Or try some of our recipes with them in it:
Easy Flax Seed Crackers
Whole Grain Sandwich Bread
Pecan Cookies
Quinoa Meatloaf/Balls

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