These days my diet is focused on getting as much bang for my buck as possible. That’s why I have chosen to eat as many organic fruits and veggies as paycheck will allow. In addition to organic produce, there are certain foods that one can add to the diet that are super beneficial and inexpensive. Flax seeds are one of them.
Why flax seeds? Well….let’s start with the nutritional benefits:
Alpha-linolenic acid is one of two fatty acids (omega 3) that are “essential.” This means that the body does not manufacture them and we have to obtain them from our diet. Dietary sources of alpha-linolenic acid include flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, soybeans and some dark green leafy vegetables. Linoleic acid (omega 6) is found in high concentrations in corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil. Most people consume a much higher amount of linoleic acid than alpha-linolenic acid which can have a negative effect.
A tablespoon of flax seeds contain approximately 1.8 grams of omega-3s. They also contain lignans which contain both plant estrogens (phyto-estrogens) and anti-oxidants and fiber. There are three primary omega-3’s: ALA, EPA, and DHA. Flax contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
According to statistics, flax has anti-inflammatory benefits, can help with skin issues and irregularity and can lower cholesterol. And that is just a fraction of the health benefits!
In addition to the health benefits I just love the taste and the way it adds bulk to my food and helps to satiate my appetite.
Flax seeds come whole or ground. I think I have even seen them toasted. However, if you are going to eat flax seeds and want to reap the maximum benefits you need to buy them whole and grind them yourself. Sorry folks, there is no way around that. When they are already ground they “can” lose their potency and can easily turn rancid, so you may be wasting your money. I recommend buying an inexpensive Krups coffee grinder for about $25 (or $5 at Goodwill used) and keep that on hand just for grinding the flax seeds. It takes under about 10 seconds to grind them.
Now that you have ground your flax seeds, what do you do with them? Here are a few ways that I use flax seeds.
- in plain yogurt: with some fresh strawberries and Stevia powder
- in soups: I buy the containers of creamed soups like broccoli or squash and add steamed fresh vegetables and a few tablespoons of freshly ground flax. It acts as a thickener as well and makes for a heartier soup
- in oatmeal or cereal: one tablespoon gives the cereal a nutty flavor and also adds bulk and fiber
- in baked goods: you can add a few tablespoons of ground flax seeds to whatever you are baking to add fiber and nutritional value
- in a smoothie
My favorite brand is Spectrum. I especially like the dark seeds. The product always tastes great and is very fresh. A bag of whole flax seeds can last a few weeks in the refrigerator and costs between $5-$7 depending on where you buy it. I even add a little ground flax to my dog Sienna’s food. Her coat has been looking especially shiny lately.
Try it…you’ll love it!