Flaxseed is one of the richest omega-3 plant foods. However, because the nutrients are encapsuled in a strong outshell, flaxseed must be ground to gain the omega-3 health benefits. Flaxseed also retains water and thus gives soluble fiber benefits for optimal colon health.
Omega-3’s: Flax seed are one of the highest omega-3 containing plant foods. The primary omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed is alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which has been found to inhibit tumor incidence and growth.
Lignans: These phytonutrient compounds found in flax seeds have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities.
Cancer prevention: The omega-3s and lignans are responsible for making flax seed a cancer-fighting food. Lignans provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Some studies suggest that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may increase the survival of breast cancer patients.
Cardiovascular disease: Omega-3’s help the cardiovascular system by taking anti-inflammatory action and normalizing heartbeat. In addition, flaxseed has been shown to lower blood pressure and help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries.
Lower cholesterol: Increased flaxseed intake is correlated to decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This benefit is due to the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignan content.
Digestion: Flaxseed contains both insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps in regulating bowel movements and making you feel fuller longer.
Anti-inflammatory: ALA and lignans may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain diseases such as Parkinson’s and asthma by helping block the release of pro-inflammatory agents. Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Menopause symptoms: By increasing regular consumption of flaxseed, women have reported that the intensity of their hot flashes is not as intense.
Good source of:
Omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, B1, fiber, magnesium
Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:
Purchasing: There is brown or golden varieties, but there is little nutritional differences between the two. Flaxseed can also be purchased whole or ground either in pre-packaged bags or in bulk bins. Don’t be confused by the different product names. Milled, ground, and flax meal are all the same product just with different names. When purchasing pre-ground flax, be cautious of rancidity from heat or prolonged exposure to air.
Storing: To keep the omega-3 fatty acids from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency, pre-ground flaxseed should be stored in the freezer. Whole flaxseeds are stable at room temperature due to its hard outer shell but should be kept in a dark and cool place.
Enjoying: Flaxseed eaten whole passes through the intestinal tract undigested, which means the body does not get all of the health benefits. Therefore, whole flaxseeds must be ground in an electric coffee grinder or food processor before consumption.
- Add ground flaxseed into dark, moist dishes such as dark sauces, smoothies, oatmeal, and soups. It will add fiber and anti-oxidants that will make any dish 100 times healthier!
- Use it in baking! Ground flaxseed can be made into a faux egg for a thickening or binding agent. Mix 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 3 tablespoons of warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Also, you can substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, breads, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing ¼ to ½ cup of flour with ground flaxseed for a recipe that calls for 2 or more cups of flour.
Resources & recipes:
Flaxseed egg substitute: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/flaxseed-egg-substitute.html
Vegan banana bread with dates and almonds: http://foodblogandthedog.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/vegan-banana-bread-with-dates-and-almonds/
Flax crackers: http://cleangreensimple.com/2011/05/flax-crackers/
Peanut butter flaxseed pancakes: http://minimalistbaker.com/peanut-butter-flaxseed-pancakes/
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