Unless you are otherwise a health nut, flaxseeds may not have necessarily been on your grocery list or in your recipe cabinet. Now of days, flaxseeds can be bought at any health store, in most grocery stores and even online. If you’ve been resistant in trying or cooking with this seed, the various health benefits may make you want to reconsider.
Types of Flaxseed
The whole flaxseed itself comes in a hard shell, which is digested through the body whole and is therefore, unchanged, leaving little benefit to your health. The milled version, however, is great because its processing allows its contents to be readily available for the body to use. The alpha-linoleic acid (an Omega-3 fatty acid) contained in the flaxseed in addition to the fiber, can be absorbed easily to keep you healthier.
Benefits of Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are comprised of similar vitamins and minerals as found in most whole grains. They have the additional benefits, however, of fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, which far surpass most of our popular grains. These various components have been linked to lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease and certain cancers, improving kidney function, and treating menopausal symptoms.
10 Ways to Use Flaxseed
Disguise It: Because flaxseed does not have a strong or overpowering flavor, you can add it into to just about any meal, especially if there are other potent flavors already going on in your meal. Some examples are mixing milled flaxseed into meatloaves, casseroles and sandwiches.
Bake with it: Many health conscious bakers already are familiar with the many different baking agents and ways to create breads, cakes and pastries. For the average baker, you simply would sift some of the milled flaxseed into your existing flour (usually about 2 tablespoons of flaxseed to 1 cup of flour). You would keep this mixture in an airtight container and use it any time you would your regular flour and watch it cook similar to whole grain flour.
Enjoy with Breakfast: Flaxseed can be added to your oatmeal while cooking it or sprinkled to any cold breakfast cereal or yogurt. Smoothies are also a great place for them to go unnoticed, especially if you are trying to spread the health benefits to those less enthusiastic about trying it.
Make your Dessert a little healthier: There is no need to feel completely guilty when using your flour-flaxseed mix to make your favorite desserts. Holidays are coming up so adding this to your traditional Christmas cookie recipe may make you feel a little bit less shameful, especially after you’ve noticed that you’ve eaten half of the batch yourself.
Down It: If you are the type of person who likes to get things over quickly, mixing flax into a glass of water or juice is also a simple way to get it into your diet.
Add it to your Condiments: Mixing flaxseed into your ketchup, mustard, or mayo, is a great idea, especially if you are attempting to get other family members (i.e., kids) to get their dose.
Add to other staples: Similar to above, you can add to spaghetti sauce or any other regular staple that you use for cooking.
Soups and Stews: As the winter approaches, now is a great time to add another health bonus to your warm comfort meals in addition to the usual veggies you load in.
Make a salad topping: By adding to your favorite vinaigrette or making a savory crouton out of the milled flaxseed, you can make your salad even healthier.
Substitute It: Because of its Omega-3 content, flaxseeeds can be used as a great substitution for many fats and oils. Similarly, an egg can be replaced by one tablespoon of milled flaxseed along with three tablespoons of water or another liquid. Depending on the type of recipe, there can be a number of specific substitution ratios for you to incorporate into your most popular dishes.
Buy Flaxseed, whether whole or milled, from a trusted source where there is a lot of turnover. Milled versions, especially need to be kept in a cool and airtight environment since they have a relatively short shelf life, so making sure that you do not purchase a rancid batch is important.
You also want to remember that heat destroys many of the properties of both milled flaxseed and oil versions, so when adding them to hot foods, make sure to add them at the end of the cooking process.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the interaction with certain prescriptions, specifically those that help treat diabetes as well as anticoagulants. If you have either of these related conditions or an existing GI condition, you may want to consult with your physician.
Because of the high content of soluble fiber, it is possible for you to become constipated, especially if you are not drinking adequate amounts of water. So be mindful of your water habits if attempting to integrate flax into your diet. Also, remember to start slowly if you are not used to a high fiber kind of diet. There are many uncomfortable GI situations that you may encounter otherwise, if you decide to just jump in. If you are looking to incorporate flaxseed into your diet, heed some of these tips and suggestions to ensure a successful integration.