Flaxseeds are tiny, but they are mighty! Flaxseeds, while not technically a grain, have a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in them far outnumber grains. Other than some bloating that may occur in a new user, flaxseeds are very safe. It’s a food that has been with us for thousands of years.
The main health benefits of Flaxseeds are:
- Flaxseeds are a great source of fiber. Each tablespoon of flax contains about 8 grams of fiber which is key to maintaining a healthy digestive system and keeping the bowels regular. Because of all the fiber, start with half a teaspoon and increase your intake over a period of time, allowing your body to a dust to the fiber coming in. Otherwise, you may experience bloating.
- Flaxseeds are a plant source of Omega-3. These essential fatty acids (“essential” meaning they must be consumed because our bodies don’t make them) play an important role in the anti-inflammatory system of our body. Flax contains the shorter chain omega-3 called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Thus, it is not a replacement for fish or fish oil supplements that contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (ecosapentaenoic acid.)
- Flaxseeds contains lignans which reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. The lignans alter the way your body metabolizes estrogens into safer forms.
- Flaxseeds have been shown to reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. To reap the benefits, this requires a daily dose of 2 tablespoons. And flax can normalize the menstrual cycle by supporting the second phase (the luteal phase).
Start slow and build up. Grind the seeds. Pre ground flax spoils or oxidizes, quickly. Unground, the impermeable coating may make it pass right through you, and you won’t absorb any of the benefits.) Add it to cooked oatmeal, to pancake batter or to yogurt. It has a nice nutty flavor. Don’t buy the oil as that eliminates the fiber and most of the lignans.
The flax flower in bloom
Here’s the easiest way to include Flaxseeds in your diet:
Roast some flaxseeds on a hot skillet without any oil. Cool them down and sprinkle some salt over them and store in an air tight container. Snack on them whenever you want! But chew on them well to reap their benefits.