Flaxseed is one of my very favorite foods, and ironically enough, one of my husband’s least favorite foods. I think he’s afraid of its nutritional superpowers. But for me, it’s one of the few foods I can’t do without and even travel with as it keeps me well, regular.
With flaxseed’s tremendously high fiber content it keeps my body running like a well oil machine when I’m incorporating it into my diet along with other healthy foods and plenty of water.
What is flaxseed? It’s estimated that flaxseed, much like chia seeds, have been cultivated for thousands of years, originating in Babylon. They’re a tiny little seed that comes from the flaxseed plant, which when in full bloom produces a beautiful, bright purple flower. Flaxseed can be consumed as a whole seed, milled seed, or extracted oil.
Health benefits: First and foremost, flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. But they are also high in omega-3 fatty acids – or ‘good fats’ – that contain phytoestrogens. These anti-inflammatory omega-3s have been shown to help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots, increase “good” HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, and protect arteries from plaque buildup. Flaxseed also contains lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, and also promote regular digestion and have been shown to help prevent breast cancer.
Nutritional stats: One ounce of flaxseed contains approximately 150 calories, 12 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of dietary fiber, and 5 grams of protein.
Cooking methods: It’s important to know first that you should grind your flaxseed into a ‘meal’ in order to reap its full benefits. You can then sprinkle your flax into all kinds of sweet and savory dishes like yogurt, cereal, sandwiches, muffins, and breads. My two favorite ways to have it are on top of toast with an over-medium egg over the top, and in my green spinach smoothies.
If you haven’t already, get your hands on some flaxseed and start putting it in everything you can think of. Just make sure to incorporate it gradually into your diet, starting with a couple teaspoons and working up to 1-2 tablespoons. And be sure to drink plenty of water when you do, or it can actually have adverse effects on your body.
April 22nd, 2012