There's a reason that flax seeds have made it to the mainstream market. These tiny, flattened, bronze-colored seeds are brimming with nutritional goodness, and are more versatile then you may realize. Think outside the culinary box, and check out these 10 easy ways to incorporate more flax into your everyday recipes.
Why Eat Flax Seeds?
Flax is a great source of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health and can also help lower cholesterol.
One tablespoon of whole seeds contains 55 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and about 2,300 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat. ALA has been shown to help decrease the risk of certain inflammatory diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Flax seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, and thiamin and a good source of selenium. They also contain gamma-tocopheral, a form of the antioxidant vitamin E.
Flax contains powerful antioxidants called lignans, which are phytochemicals (or plant chemicals) that provide many health benefits. They are metabolized by friendly bacteria is your gut, then absorbed and circulated in the blood. This is where they help prevent plaque build-up in your arteries and help lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol. Studies have also found that lignans may also help improve blood sugar in those with diabetes.
This combination of lignans, fiber, and omega-3’s has gained nutritional notoriety. Studies have linked flax to cardiovascular protection and the reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Purchasing and Storing
To get the nutritional and health benefits of flax seeds, aim for 1 to 2 tablespoons of flax daily. You can purchase flax seeds whole or ground. The ground flax seeds may be easier for some folks to digest over the whole variety. Store flax seeds in a sealed plastic container in a cool, dark place for up to 4 months. To maintain freshness longer, you can also store flax seeds in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator or freezer.
10 Creative Ways to Eat Flax
#1: Morning Cereal
Start your morning with a healthy dose of omega-3’s by sprinkling over cold cereal or stirring it into hot cereal like oatmeal.
Flax seeds add a slightly, but not overwhelming, nutty flavor. Add 1 tablespoon of whole flax seeds into your morning smoothie for an extra 2 grams of protein.
Combine yogurt, fruit, and flax for a delicious morning parfait.
#4: Green Salads
Use flax oil to make an omega-3-packed vinaigrette for any salad. You’ll get more fiber and a nice crunch, however, by topping the salad with the actual seeds (whole or ground).
#5: Protein Salads
When preparing a tuna, chicken, or egg salad, mix ground flaxseeds into the dressing.
#6: Breaded Recipes
Replace part or all of the flour in breaded recipes (like chicken tenders) with ground flax seeds. You can also combine ground flax seeds with crushed nuts like almonds or pecans for a delicious fish crust.
Garnish soups with a tablespoon of ground flax seed, for a slight nutty flavor and delicious crunch.
#8: Casseroles, Chili, and Stews
Get a boost of fiber and omega-3 by stirring ground flax seeds into a hearty casserole, chili, or stew.
#9: Ground Meat Dishes
Substitute ground flax for breadcrumbs in ground meat dishes like meatballs, tacos, and meatloaf.
#10: Baked Goods
Add ground flax seeds to the batter of muffins, breads, cookies, and cakes.