Flaxseed has been touted as a new wonder food. Flaxseed may reduce your chances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It can be used as a substitute for fats, flour and eggs, making it an easy addition to baked goods. You can even add flaxseed to your sauces, soups and breakfast oatmeal. Let’s explore more about the origins of this super food and find out ways we can incorporate it into our diets.
What’s also great is that flaxseed is an excellent source of protein making it a great meat substitute for vegetarians – this means it’s eco-friendly!
What is Flaxseed.
Flaxseed or Linseed comes from the Flax plant. The ancient Egyptians used it for medicine and food. The use and benefits have grown substantially in the past decade. Flax can be consumed eating the seeds or using a ground meal made from the seeds. Both are good for you, although some sources state the ground form gives you more nutrients.
Flaxseed can be in whole seeds, ground into a meal or converted into an oil. Let’s examine more about it.
Why Is Flaxseed Good For You.
There are several good components found in flaxseed like phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, copper, and vitamin B1. There are 3 main reasons it is so beneficial to your health.
- Omega- 3 – These are the good fats that are heart healthy.
- Lignans – These have plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. WebMD reports that Flaxseed contains 78 to 800 times more lignans that other plant foods.
- Fiber – Contains both insoluble and soluble types.
Other benefits are its low in sodium and studies have shown flaxseed can reduce your bad cholesterol. The plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed has been found to inhibit tumor incidence and growth in animal studies. The seed has also been linked to decreased inflammation for arthritis sufferers. Eating foods rich in fiber tend to keep us full longer, so we consume less calories leading to a healthier lifestyle.
There is an oil version of the product available and it has different components:
- Unlike flaxseed meal and seeds the oil only contains omega-3s (no lignans or fiber).
- You should never cook with this oil.
- It can be used as a laxative.
- It can be applied to the skin to sooth irritation or soften roughness
Flaxseed May Not Be A Cure All.
With the possibility to help your health, why isn’t everyone using it? While there are reports that show how flaxseed can improve your health, several organizations state that further studies are needed to determine how beneficial flaxseed can be in your diet. Eating flaxseed may decrease the absorption of other drugs, vitamins, or minerals, so it is best to take your pills 1 or 2 hours after consuming flaxseed.
There are also recommendations from the National Institute of Health stating that the following individuals should refrain or use caution when using flaxseed:
- Pregnant Women (Including Those Breastfeeding): Since flaxseed can act like the hormone estrogen some healthcare providers are concerned about the impact on pregnancy. While no clinical evidence shows adverse reactions, it is recommended pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid flaxseed.
- Bleeding Disorders: May slow clotting, which may increase bleeding in those individuals with a bleeding disorder.
- Diabetes: There is some evidence that flaxseed can lower blood sugars and this might increase the lowering effects of some diabetes medicines. If you use flaxseed, you should monitor your blood sugars closely.
- Gastrointestinal Obstruction: The high fiber content may make the obstruction worse.
- Hormone-Sensitive cancers and conditions: There are concerns because flaxseed can act like estrogen that it might make these conditions worse, although there is no research to show that.
- High Triglyceride Levels: Flaxseed with less alpha linolenic acid content may increase triglyceride levels.
- Low Blood Pressure: May lower blood pressure, therefore taking flaxseed may lower blood pressure too much.
- High Blood Pressure: For individuals with high blood pressure who take medication, eating flaxseed may drop your blood pressure too much.
If you have any concerns check with your doctor before consuming.
There are many ways you can use flaxseed throughout your day including:
- Add a tablespoon to your oatmeal, smoothie or cereal.
- Substitute up to ½ cup of flaxseed meal for your flour in baking recipes.
- Mix a tablespoon into your chicken, egg or tuna salad.
- Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to pasta sauces, soups or salad dressings.
- Mix some flaxseed or flaxseed meal in your yogurt.
- Add some extra fiber to your homemade granola by including flaxseeds or flaxseed meal.
- Use flaxseed meal as an egg substitute for baking recipes- This is great for when you are out of eggs or only have expired eggs. (we’ve all been there before)
The possibilities are endless. My kids eat it in baked goods and smoothies and love it. Their favorite is when I use flaxseed meal as an egg substitute. You take 1 tablespoon of the meal form and add 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes than pour into your recipe. The part my kids love is I let them lick the bowl since raw eggs were not used. If you do use the egg substitute, make sure you aren’t substituting any flaxseed meal for your flour. You should only use one flaxseed ingredient per recipe.
Another note; be sure to store your flaxseed meal in the refrigerator for up to 4 month since it will go bad once the bag is opened and not kept cool. You can also store the meal in the freezer for up to a year. Whole flaxseed can be stored for up to a year in an air tight container in a cool, dry place.
Well, we hope we have shared some information you can use about flaxseed. It may not work for everyone, but it can make a difference in your diet and overall health. The key of course is moderation.