Now, on to today's post.
When I write about the oats, granola, yogurt and other foods I eat, I often mention using flax seeds. A few people have asked about these little health heros that go back as far as 3000 B.C., and many others use them but don't really know why, so today I'm going to change that.
What are flax seeds?
There are three main active 'ingredients' in the seeds - (1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Alpha-Linolenic acid is found in flax seeds. 1tb of flax seeds provides 1.8 grams of Omega-3's. (2) Lignans. Chemical compounds that are estrogen-like chemicals found in plants with antioxidant qualities. They are 75-8000 times more effective in flax seeds than in other plants. (3) Fiber. Both soluble and insoluble.
Why should we eat flax seeds?
While none of these are 100%, there are several reasons to include flax seeds in your diet on a regular basis. Flax seeds may reduce the risk of some cancers, such as breast, prostate, and colon cancers, as well as cardiovascular and lung disease.
The Omega-3 fatty acids help to control cholesterol levels, prevent the hardening of arteries, maintain natural heart beats, and may help to reduce blood sugar levels. Lignans are thought to help protect against cancers by blocking enzymes that metabolize hormones and they can also interfere with the growth and spreading of tumors cells. Both lignans and the ALA Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflamatory properties. And we all know fiber helps to protect against heart disease, constipation, diabetes and diverticular disease.
Should anyone not eat flax seeds?
Until more confirmed results on studies are available, many researchers and health professionals suggest that pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should not add flax seeds to their diets.
How to buy flax seeds.
You may see flax oil available at your local health food store or pharmacy in the supplement aisle. Skip it. In most cases, ground flax seeds are more effective. With that said, flax seeds are available ground and whole. You can buy either but because our digestive systems are unable to digest full flax seeds, grind whole seeds before eating them. An electric coffee grinder works well. Also, they are sold as ground, milled and meal. All three labels are for the same consistency. Do go for either brown or golden. The only difference between the two is the color. When you purchase processed foods that advertise 'flax seeds,' check the ingredient list to make sure they are ground rather than whole. Products such as breads, crackers, cereal, pasta, and more can contain flax seeds, just make sure it is the kind you can digest! Always store flax seeds in a dark, cool place, but once you've opened your package of ground flax seeds, it is best to store them in the freezer to keep them fresh as long as possible. They can be found in health food stores and perhaps some larger grocery stores as well.
What are the best ways to enjoy flax seeds and reap all the benefits?
Ground flax seeds can be added to all sorts of foods - yogurt, granola, oats, smoothies, chili, soup meatloaf, meatballs, caseroles, and much more. They can also be used when baking cookies, muffins, waffles, pancakes and more. The flavor is not overwhelming, so you can add this healthy ingredient into almost anything! Technically, heating fatty acids can alter the structure and effectiveness of them, but at standard cooking temperatures and times, this shouldn't be an issue. Flax seeds are fairly high in calories and fat and many health professionals say studies show the most effectiveness when participants have 1-2tbs per day, but even a bit added into your meals each day is helpful!
Do you have any favorite recipes or uses for flax seeds? If you haven't used them before, has this inspired you to give them a try?
from our kitchen
these cookies include flax seeds
and so does this granola