Flaxseeds and chia seeds are all the rage these days. You’ve probably read multiple articles about them and seen them on the ingredient lists of new products on supermarket shelves, but do you know what they actually are and what benefit they provide you? Here, Nutritioulicious contributor Rosemary Squires tells you all about flaxseeds. And stay tuned for a post about those chia seeds you keep seeing pop up all over the place!
What are the nutritious components of flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds have been shown to greatly improve heart health and decrease the risk of certain cancers by acting as antioxidants. There are primarily three nutritional components of flaxseeds.
Lignans, phytochemicals that have powerful antioxidant effects, help decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol, increase brain function, and decrease blood pressure. Lignans also promote breast and prostate health and have been shown to reduce the risk of cancers.
Omega-3s, a healthy fat source, help lower blood cholesterol and decrease the risk of inflammatory diseases like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.
Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means they help keep the digestive tract and cardiovascular system healthy.
How much do you need to eat?
A 2009 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that 2-6 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day can lower blood cholesterol up to 18 percent! If that seems like too much to consume, aim for 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily.
Where can you get these nutrition-packed seeds?
Flaxseeds can be found in the grocery store in their whole, ground, or oil form. To get the most nutrition from them, it is best to buy ground flaxseeds – the nutrients are more available and they’re easier to digest. You can also find flaxseeds in packaged cereals, breads, crackers, and granola products, just make sure they are listed in the ingredients in ground form, and keep in mind the overall nutritional value of the product before purchasing. Just because it contains flaxseeds, doesn’t necessarily mean it is a healthy choice. If using flaxseed oil, don’t heat it when cooking – the nutritional quality will be lost at high heats.
Flaxseeds can be eaten plain or incorporated into many of your meals to make them even more Nutritioulicious! Try adding them to muffins, smoothies, or salads.
Here’s a simple smoothie recipe to cool you off on a hot summer day.
Strawberry Banana Flax Smoothie
- ½ cup frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
- 1 cup low-fat soy milk
- Place the banana, strawberries, flax seed meal, and soy milk into a blender.
- Puree until smooth.
Do you eat include flaxseeds in your diet? If so, tell us how you use them.