Though tiny in size, flax packs a big nutritional punch. Some may even call flaxseed one of the new wonder foods because of its ability to help prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke and even diabetes. And while the popularity surrounding flaxseed may be recent, it’s actually a plant that has been around since 3000 BC.
These sesame-seed lookalikes are considered a functional food -- a food that goes beyond basic nutrients to provide numerous health benefits. Overall, these tiny seeds are great for heart and digestive health, as well as immune health.
So what makes flaxseed so healthy?
One of the key reasons flaxseed gets the nod is because it's high in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are beneficial for your entire body, including brain function and heart health. And because your body can’t naturally make them, it’s important to make them a regular part of your diet. The good news is with flaxseed, you only need just 1 tablespoon to get the recommended daily amount.
Plus they are rich in phytochemicals called lignans, which are estrogen-like nutrients that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are well-known for their ability to help protect the body from free radicals.
Finally, flaxseeds are also high in fiber, which is an important part of every balanced diet. Fiber is not only essential for digestive health, it also supports the health of your heart and skin.
With all that going for it, the question is how to get more flaxseed into your diet?
First, to absorb all its nutrients, eat flaxseed in ground form, never whole. You can buy ground flax or, better still, buy whole seeds and grind them in a small coffee grinder right before you're going to use them. Keep flax in the fridge to extend its freshness.
Flaxseed has a nutty taste, making it a great topping for hot or cold cereal, yogurt and cottage cheese, even fruit. Try mixing flax into salad dressings or into mayo or mashed avocado for a sandwich spread. Add it to the batter for pancakes, cookies, muffins, breads and other baked goods. You can even blend it into a smoothie.
Start by adding 1 tablespoon a day to your diet and gradually work up to 5 for optimal health.
Finally, a diet that’s just right for you.
The foods we eat have the power to make us look and feel our very best, but they can also leave us feeling tired, sluggish and uncomfortable. Gwinnett Medical Center’s Nutrition and Weight Management program offers access to the experts and resources you need to make better food choices for your unique health needs. Their registered dietitians will help guide you through nutrition consultations, Diet by Design, as well as metabolism testing all of which will make a positive difference in your overall health.