What is it about flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are the latest craze among healthy eaters, but what exactly are they? And how can the average person incorporate them into meals?
I got to thinking about flaxseeds when I mistakenly covered my daughter's frozen yogurt with them thinking they were graham cracker crumbs. Not wanting to waste the yogurt, I ate hers and gave her mine.
Surprisingly, they didn't taste bad at all, and I felt much healthier knowing I had just covered my dessert in vitamins. This got me wondering what exactly flaxseeds were, what they could do for my body and how I could incorporate them into my meals…
What are flaxseeds?
Flax is a type of plant with beautiful blue flowers and fruit — which is what contains the seeds. There are two different types of seeds — brown and golden. Both have high amounts of omega-3s and are rich in protein and B vitamins. The only difference lies in the taste: Golden flaxseeds tend to be smooth and nutty, whereas brown flaxseeds have more earthy undertones but have a nutty taste to them, as well. Most people prefer golden to brown, but both are beneficial to your health.
Health benefits of flaxseeds
According to WebMD, flaxseeds reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They're full of fiber which can help constipation, and they can help lower cholesterol levels. Flaxseeds contain high amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which can help prevent breast cancer and menopause symptoms in women.
You'll almost always want to use ground flaxseeds to lessen the flavor a bit and make them easier to chew. Flaxseeds tend to be very hard in their whole form. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the oils from oxidizing.
How to incorporate flaxseeds into meals
Since ground golden flaxseeds don't have too intense of a flavor, they can be incorporated into almost anything. If you don't like the taste, you can always sprinkle half the recommended amount onto foods twice per day. It's recommended to have between 2 and 4 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day — starting with 1 tablespoon and working your way up to 4. A few ways to use them in everyday foods include:
- Add a tablespoon to your morning cereal, yogurt or smoothie.
- Stir them into salad dressings or sandwich spreads, such as mayonnaise.
- Add to crumb toppings on baked goods.
- Mix in with frozen yogurt (most yogurt shops offer flaxseed as a mix-in).
- Use with breadcrumbs to coat chicken (check out this flaxseed chicken recipe here!).
- Purchase foods that already contain flaxseeds — such as energy bars, breads and crackers (make sure flaxseed is one of the ingredients listed).
As always, it's best to talk to your doctor regarding changes in your diet. Due to the high amount of fiber in flaxseeds, you'll want to slowly incorporate them into your diet to allow your body to adjust. Most Americans do not get the daily recommended fiber amounts, and flaxseed can help!
Do you eat flaxseed regularly? What differences have you noticed in your health?