26 Mar Make Flaxseeds Part of Your Daily Grind
Flaxseeds, the next addition to your grocery list! That little golden or brown shell of a seed is holding a powerhouse of nutrition. A health food that has been recognized for thousands of years and dates back to ancient Greece and Hippocrates who understood that food is medicine. Flaxseed is also know as Linseed. Studies have shown that flaxseeds help fight heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and certain types of cancers. Flaxseed can also help improve digestion and your complexion, lower cholesterol, balance hormones, reduce sugar cravings and enhance weight loss, among many other benefits! Let’s crack open the shell and look what’s inside.
One Tablespoon of freshly ground flax contains:
- 37.38 Calories
- 7% Water
- 1.3 g Protein
- 2 g Carbs (0.1 g Sugar, 1.9 g Fiber)
- 3 g Fat
- 0.26 g Saturated
- 0.53 g Monounsaturated
- 2.01 g Polyunsaturated
- Omega-3/1.6 g
- Omega-6/0.41 g
Flaxseed also known as linseed, is also a good source of vitamin B1 & B6, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, selenium, as well as, iron, potassium, copper and zinc.
The Major League Players
Flaxseeds are home run hitters as a dietary addition, but the following are the three major league players going to bat; and what makes them outstanding in the field of nutrition!
Omega-3 essential fatty acid: Flaxseeds are one of the richest plant based sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); one of 3 types. Since we don’t produce these fats ourselves, it is necessary to consume them through our diet. Omega-3 fats are a vital part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They are in the forefront for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. These fats also adhere to receptors in cells that control genetic function. The human body likes to burn ALA for energy.
Lignans: A class of plant compounds called phytoestrogens that have both antioxidant and plant estrogen qualities. The major lignan found in flaxseed is known as secoisolariciresinol diglucoside. It is metabolized into enterolactone and enterodial within our bodies, which can affect many of our tissues, to include the reproductive and the cardiovascular systems. Flaxseeds are the richest vegetable source of lignans and have up to 800 times more than any other Plant Food and Gratitudes. They have been shown to help the body detoxify and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Fiber: Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. This strong fiber content including their mucilaginous fiber help to slow gastric emptying and can improve intestinal absorption of nutrients. Flaxseed fiber also helps to stabilize the movement of food through the gastrointestinal system. The soluble fiber binds to bile acids such as oxidized cholesterol and toxic hormone metabolites and helps to pull them out of the body.
Prevention and Healing
Breast Cancer and Women’s Health
Studies have shown flaxseeds to prevent breast cancer and slow the growth of breast tumors. Women who eat flaxseeds may see a rise in the levels of endostatin in their breasts. Endostatin is a protein produced by your body to help starve tumors of their blood supply.
Flaxseeds have been shown to minimize menopausal syndrome symptoms by reducing hot flashes and their intensity.
Prostate Enlargement and Cancer
Prostate gland enlargement is a common condition as men get older affecting half of men by their fifties and 80 percent by their 80s. Also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate gland enlargement can cause annoying urinary symptoms. Research has shown that flaxseeds can be used to treat BPH. Consuming 3 tablespoons a day can give the same relief as some commonly prescribed drugs.
Another study shows that men consuming flaxseeds had a slower prostrate tumor growth rate. Flaxseeds may affect how the tumor cells clump together and grip onto other cells. The lignans in the flaxseeds help with choking off the tumors blood supply and therefore keeping it from spreading.
Our Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio should be at a level of 2:1 to promotes a cardio protective effect. Sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, aid in the dietary quest to keep that ratio low. Therefore, increased consumption of food sources that provide omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial and help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure, heart rate, and improve blood vessel function.
Several studies have been done looking at the affects of flaxseeds in the daily diet. One study compared the affects of dietary flaxseed with cholesterol-lowering statin therapy in people with a high total cholesterol level (more than 240 mg/dL). Total cholesterol, LDL levels, and triglycerides all showed improvement with the flaxseed eating group that was comparable to those taking statin drugs. Other studies have shown that dietary flaxseed can slow the progression of atherosclerotic plaques. However, the suppression of atherosclerosis by flaxseed is the result of its lignan content and not the result of ALA content.
By reducing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques you would also be reducing the risk of plaque breaking off to form a clot, thus, blocking a vessel that could cause a stroke. Consuming omega-3 fatty acid help lower blood pressure and the inflammatory process which decreases the risk of vessel damage and potential rupture.
The omega-3, ALA, fats in flaxseeds improves the skin and hair by supplying the body with essential fatty acids and B-vitamins which can help reduce dryness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, eczema, and rosacea. A 2010 study discovered that the addition of flaxseed oil to your diet can reduce skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition. Flaxseeds have also been helpful in eye health by reducing symptoms with dry eye syndrome.
Flaxseeds are a great dietary addition when you are trying to lose weight. The fiber will help the body to feel fuller faster. It also slows digestion which prevents glucose from spiking the blood sugar. Excess sugar is stored as fat, so balancing the blood sugar helps you lose weight. High blood sugar triggers the release of insulin, which signals the body to cease breaking down stored fat reducing the excess burn-off.
Buy it whole. The whole food is always better than any of its extracted components.
However, when eaten whole its hard protective shell keeps it from being digested and most seeds will pass through the body without utilizing its health benefits. Therefore, it’s time to add this little seed to your daily grind. Small electric coffee grinders work well, and so do small high speed blenders with the grinding blade. Once ground, use it immediately or shortly after. If there is a delay in the consumption, refrigerate the ground product to preserve its nutrients but use within 24 hour for best bioavailability.
Flaxseeds can be purchased whole as golden or brown seeds. They both have about equivalent nutritional breakdown so it becomes personal preference and availability. They store well in a cool dark place but don’t need refrigeration. Flax meal, sometimes called milled or ground, is void of most of the beneficial oils. It does work well as egg replacers and increasing dietary fiber to meals or baked goods. Flaxseed oils are often void of the lignans unless stated that it contains them.
Find ways to incorporate flaxseeds into your daily routine. It works well mixed into oatmeal, smoothies and yogurt. Add flaxseeds to pancakes and waffles. Disguise it in sauces, gravies and soups. Sprinkle it over vegetables or fruit. Use your imagination, but start grinding!
Savory Morning Oatmeal
1/3 cup old fashion organic oats
1/3 cup almond or cashew milk
1/3 cup water
1 swirl of liquid aminos
1 tbsp whole flaxseeds, freshly ground
1 tbsp hemp seed hearts
1 tbsp chia seeds
Small amount of almond slivers, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnut pieces,
1/8 tsp turmeric
2-4 grinds of black pepper
1 brazil nut
1 small piece of dulse seaweed
In a microwave safe bowl add the oatmeal, nut milk, water and one swirl around the bowl with the liquid aminos. Microwave for 1.5 minutes at high power, then 3 minutes at reduced power level 4. This keeps it from overflowing in the bowl. While this is cooking grind your flaxseeds. Add the remaining ingredients to the ground flax and add it to oatmeal when it is finished cooking and mix. Add more nut milk to desired consistency and more or less aminos to taste.
This oatmeal is packed with protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The turmeric and pepper add a small bit of anti-inflammatory seasoning; the Brazil nut is for daily selenium and the seaweed for iodine. You can add a handful of baby greens if you want to get some greens in here or make the following smoothie to accompany your breakfast or a mid morning snack.
¾ cup nut milk (use vanilla if you like it sweeter)
½ pineapple juice
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 tbsp flaxseed
4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup mango (fresh or frozen)
Place all ingredients in a high speed mixer and blend for 30 second to a minute.
How Plant Food and Gratitude can help
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