In continuation of our chia seed discussion from yesterday, today we’re talking about the equally intriguing flaxseed.  Flax fibers have been grown to make fabric for centuries, and now the nutritional benefits of the flaxseed are being explored in modern research.

Get in those Omega 3 fatty acids!  Just like chia seeds, flaxseeds are a good source of Alpha Linolenic Acid.  The anti-inflammatory compounds in flaxseeds have been shown to be particularly helpful for irritated skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis.  Read more about the benefits of Omega 3’s here.

Get a little dose of magnesium.  Many people I’ve worked with have diets that are chronically low in this mineral.  Magnesium is important for good nerve and muscle health.

Increase your daily fiber intake.  Two tablespoons of ground flax meal contains 4 grams of fiber.  Read more about the importance of adequate fiber intake here.

Get things moving.  Flaxseeds have been shown to relieve constipation in several clinical trials. However keep in mind that adequate hydration is the first step towards a successful bowel movement!

Tips for storing and using flaxseeds:

If you want to digest them, you’ve got to grind them!  Eating a flaxseed whole doesn’t do you any good, because it’ll just pass right through you (if you catch my drift).  The sturdy hull of a flaxseed is too tough for our digestive tract to break down.  Flaxseeds have to be ground into flax meal in a spice grinder in order to be digested.  You can buy flax meal already ground, but it’s more expensive and spoils much faster (see below).

Store these guys in the freezer.  The Omega 3-rich oil in flaxseeds causes them to spoil pretty quickly.  If you store them in the freezer they’ll last for months.

Works well as a culinary binder.  Flax meal turns thick and gooey when combined with warm water.  This can act as an egg substitute in baked goods or as a general thickener in other recipes.  I’ve used flax meal to make cookies, brown sushi rice, meat loaf, and other good eats.  It’s also tasty when combined with steel cut oats for breakfast.

There are two popular varieties of flaxseed: brown and golden.  Both have very similar nutritional properties, but the brown variety has a slightly more pronounced flavor.  Sometimes the golden variety is more expensive.  You can find flaxseeds at your local health food or specialty store, sometimes even in the bulk section!
9/20/2012 02:04:36 am

I know you don't like to eat wheat, but these crackers are 100% whole wheat + sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds...so hearty and terrific with hummus or yogurt spreads.
http://www.myglobalkitchens.com/2012/01/crazy-about-crackers/
I have made it even easier now by cutting the crackers directly on the cookie sheets as they break apart after cooking. If you are ever near Queen Anne or Ballard I'll give you some to try and you'll be hooked. Guaranteed!

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10/29/2012 04:03:19 pm

Hey, I just wanted to say thank you for the really great post. I have read that flax seeds are actually a great way to reduce bad cholesterol levels. In fact, it can reduce these levels by up to 14% in adults who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. There are a number of other good cholesterol lowering foods which you can check out at: http://www.achieveclinical.com/news/top-10-cholesterol-lowering-foods/

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12/10/2012 01:26:25 am

I am not sure if I am getting enough flaxseeds in my diet, and now I feel inspired to add some more. I keep hearing about the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids, and I was thinking about adding a new supplement to my diet since I'm not much of a fish eater. Now, I am considering flax seeds instead, so thank you for the post!

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2/4/2013 10:17:01 am

I was thinking about the benefits of adding more Omega-3 to my diet as well. I am interested in learning more about healthy dietary options, and that's actually what brought me to this page in the first place. Now, I will certainly be looking to add some more flax seeds as well.

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2/15/2013 07:42:18 am

I have been working to add more flax to my diet since originally reading this post. I have not had my cholesterol levels checked recently, but these flax seeds can really help battle high cholesterol levels.

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