Cut me some flax!
Flaxseed is nothing new but like so many products, it’s become popular from the media’s attention. There are some good reasons for this attention; as we’ve learned more about ALA (a type of omega-3 fat) there’s been an effort to identify good sources and flaxseed is one of them. It turns out that flaxseed is one of the richest dietary sources of omega-3 fats.
Flaxseeds are little brown seeds (slightly larger than sesame seeds) that are sold whole, ground, or milled. They’re very high in fiber – just one tablespoon of flaxseeds contains as much fiber as ½ cup of brown rice or cooked oat bran. Flaxseeds are also very high in lignans (found in all plant seeds) which have been shown to help prevent tumor growth and reduce the risk of cancer. Do you have enough reasons to try flaxseeds yet? If not, eating flax is also correlated with lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and improving bowel function.
Here’s my number one reason to eat flaxseeds (drum roll please…): ground flaxseeds are a healthy alternative to breadcrumbs in many recipes. They can also be a great addition to yogurt, baked goods, cereals, smoothies or salads. So they’re easy to use! A general guideline: if a recipe calls for 2 cups or more of flour, replace ¼ to ½ cup of flour with ground flax.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the flaxseed oil capsules. Sure, you can take those but by now, readers, you know me and I know you’ll get more out of eating the ground seeds. How do I know? Well, when you extract the oil, you’re omitting the fiber and lignans, so you’re really only getting one of the 3 major benefits. That doesn’t seem worth it to me – why not just eat the whole thing?! With only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds per day, you can meet your omega-3 needs.