Weight loss food, a teaspoon of flaxseed daily is the superfood you need to lose weight

Fitness experts say you can reach your weight loss goals faster if you follow a healthy diet and a disciplined exercise routine. However, the key to losing weight is in understanding the too many dos and don’ts of the best weight loss exercises and the diet you follow. On this weight loss journey, it is important that you add a few superfoods that will help you along the way.

Flaxseeds, most fitness experts would suggest, is one such superfood you must include in your diet. These tiny brown-coloured seeds come from the flax plant. We use the fibre from this plant to produce the ultra-comfortable linen clothes. They are also known as linseeds and have been used for thousands of years in the Middle East.

Benefits of flaxseeds for weight loss 

Great source of Omega 3 fatty acids

Flaxseeds are loaded with the two essential fatty acids: Omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid) which cannot be produced in the body. “The essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation. Flaxseeds is also a good source of thermogenic, which is the fat burning compound,” says nutritionist Janvi Chitalia.

Makes you feel satiated

Adding more fibre to your meal makes you feel full for longer periods. It also helps increase metabolism, enhance digestion and motility. Flaxseeds have about 27.3gms of dietary fibre. According to Roshan Kore, senior dietician, Narayana Health – SRCC Children’s Hospital, flaxseeds make you feel full sooner, thus helps you avoid piling on unnecessary calories.

Protein helps lose weight

“Flaxseeds are a rich source of protein (about 100gms of flaxseeds contains 18gms of protein). Proteins help lose weight faster,” adds Chitalia.

Metabolism-Boosting lignans

Lignans that are converted into enterolignans help prevent diseases such as heart conditions and also have anti-cancer properties. “Flaxseeds contain 8 times more lignans than sesame seeds. Lignans also lower glucose levels which contribute towards weight loss,” adds Kore.

Here’s how to include flaxseeds in your diet

You could either add it to your salads and soups or use it for baking healthy bread. “Ground flaxseeds or milled flaxseeds and cold-pressed flaxseed oil are more effective when it comes to weight loss. This is because flaxseeds have a cover which makes it difficult to be digested by humans. Thus, ground flaxseeds are more effective for complete nutrient absorption,” suggests Chitalia.

Experts recommend about 2-4 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day for effective weight loss. “However, excessive fibre intake can cause diarrhoea or nutrient malabsorption. Thus, you need to limit your intake of flax seeds if you are already eating high amounts of fibre through fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” adds Kore.

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Flaxseeds can be used to help manage weight and promote good health. While flaxseeds certainly have amazing benefits, many people are still not sure how to add them to their regular diet. With the right recipes and lifestyle changes, you’ll be able to use flaxseeds to their full advantage.

Benefits of flax seeds

While adding flax seeds for weight loss may seem like a new fad, it’s a great way to encourage a healthier lifestyle. If you’re hoping to use flaxseeds in your diet but not sure where to begin, read on.

1. Eat Flaxseeds with Whole Grain Cereals

Whole grains are an excellent choice on their own and are a great way to curb the appetite while giving you a nutritional boost. Depending on the texture you prefer, you cause ground or whole flaxseeds in your cereal or oatmeal. With the ground flaxseeds, you’ll notice that the seeds easily dissolve, making them barely noticeable as you eat.

The benefit of adding something as nutritionally potent as flaxseed to already healthy cereal is the added boost of fiber. The fiber works to promote slower absorption and digestion which will allow you to feel cooler faster. Adding fiber to your diet is a helpful way to aid with weight management.

9 Reasons You Need To Eat Flaxseed Every Day

2. Put Flaxseeds In Your Salads for a Nuttier Flavor

There’s nothing better than a tasty salad that is packed with extra toppings. Salads by themselves are filled with healthy fats, lots of veggies and potentially frits, as well as high-quality protein. The benefits of flax seeds are that they are a great way to keep the variety going in your salads. If you choose to spice up your next salad by adding flax seeds for weight loss, you’ll find that they taste just like sunflower seeds or crushed nuts.

Another alternative for adding the wonderful nutrients of flaxseeds to your salad is to use flaxseed oil in your salad dressing. The salad dressing is already full of healthy fats and other nutrients. By adding flaxseed oil, you’ll be able to load up your salad with omega-3s, which encourage healthier hair, skin, and higher functioning hearts and brains. For a double whammy, consider using flaxseed oil alongside ground or whole flaxseeds in your salad as well.

3. When Eating Yogurt, Add in a Handful of Flaxseeds

Eating yogurt regularly will work to reduce hunger and make you feel fuller faster. Regularly adding yogurt to your diet will help you keep from overeating. Yogurts on their own are already high in protein, probiotics, calcium, and similar ingredient. With the benefit of flaxseeds, your yogurt gets a boost of omega-3 fatty acids, taking your any-time snack to the next level. Don’t be afraid to mix in some fruit and nuts to your yogurt too.

4. Smoothies are Better with Flaxseeeds

When trying to use flax seeds for weight loss, smoothies are a must for staving off hunger while building up your body’s level of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Take advantage of your smoothie time by throwing in one or two tablespoons of flaxseeds into the blender. The flaxseeds will add fiber, healthy fats, and protein to an already healthy snack.

Another great way to add flaxseeds to your smoothies is to use flaxseed oil. While you may have to go to a specialty store for it, the flaxseed oil blends more seamlessly into your smoothie, but still has all the wonderful benefits of flax seeds themselves. Typically, flaxseed oil is found in the refrigerated supplements aisle in natural food stores. Once you purchase the flaxseed oil, you will find that you can easily add it to any meal or drink.

5. Try out Other Flaxseed Products

As more people learn of the benefits of flax seeds, more companies are coming out with products that are full of flaxseeds. These products range from flaxseed bread to whole grain cereals chock full of the seeds. Easily boost the benefits of flax seeds by regularly pairing one of these flaxseed products with your meals.

Similarly, when cooking or baking your own baked goods and meals, consider adding flax seeds. There are excellent recipes for flaxseed crusted chicken, casseroles topped with flaxseed, and cookies with the benefits of flax seeds baked into them.

The more creative you get with how you eat and cook with flaxseeds, the better your health will be. Use these five food ideas to help increase your intake of flaxseeds and promote a healthier diet.

I don’t buy something unless I can figure out at least 2 different ways to use it.

This is my approach to small kitchen appliances and the latest trend in foods. I don’t care how healthy it is – if I can only use it for one sole purpose, I’m not buying it.

That’s one reason why I’ve come up with a huge list of ways to use flax seed. That, and because my eye doctor told me to eat more fish.

What does fish have to do with flaxseed? Let me explain.

I went to the eye doctor earlier this year for my yearly check-up and during my appointment, my eye doctor asked if my eyes watered a lot and were itchy.

I said yes and explained that it was because of allergies. Or that it could be the sun, because my eyes are light-colored and have been sensitive to light for as long as I can remember.

“Nope, that’s not it,” she tells me. “You have meibomianitis.”

Meobomianitis is when the glands in the eye lids are swollen and clogged and cannot produce oil to lubricate the eyes. As a result, the eyes are dry.

She said that if left untreated, I could have chronic dry eye and require eye drops for the rest of my life!

Her recommendation was to treat meibomianitis from the inside out and to start taking fish oil because of the omega-3’s.

Since I prefer to eat food instead of swallow pills whenever possible, I asked if I could just eat more fish.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Wild caught salmon would be best, but tuna is okay too, just not too often because of the mercury.”

I’ve been eating salmon twice a week for lunch ever since and it’s helping, but I want to do more. When I researched more about which foods were naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, I learned that flaxseed was very comparable to salmon in terms of the percent daily value.

As it turns out, flaxseed is also crazy high in fiber, high in protein and considered a superfood with its antioxidant and cancer-fighting nutrients. According to this article, flaxseeds:

could help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, reduce sugar cravings, balance hormones, fight cancer and promote weight loss…

Who wouldn’t like benefits like those?!

Generally speaking, the term “flaxseed” can mean either the whole seed or the seed ground into a powder. However, the proper term for the ground powder is milled flaxseed.

You can make your own milled flaxseed by putting whole flax seeds in an inexpensive coffee grinder, but I make so many other things from scratch and there’s only so much time in the day, you know? Frankly, I’m willing to concede with flax.

Milled flaxseed doesn’t cost anymore than whole flax seeds, and since my eyesight depends on incorporating flaxseed as a regular ingredient in our favorite recipes (with the help of all the ideas below!) and I’d much rather have this brand milled flaxseed ready to go instead (or you can get it off Amazon too).

Flax Seed Nutrition

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a knack for the science behind food and has some good information on flax (whole seed, ground and oil), but it’s basically made up of three main ingredients:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid- a “good” fat for heart and bone health.
  • Lignans- free-radical fighting antioxidant found red wine; also shown to interfere with cancer-promoting effects of estrogen and promotes regular digestion.
  • Fiber- helps keep the pipes clean.

No one likes clogged pipes… 😉

I can’t give you an entire line up of every single good-for-you ingredient, but I would take a guess that flax seed is towards the top of the list of affordability. I was able to find a 48oz re-sealable bag of organic ground flax seed at Costco for $6.79. One serving is two tablespoons, making it only 7 cents per serving.

I sneaked in nutrition, giving an extra oomph to unsuspecting taste testers.

Flax has a “nutty” flavor, but when you add just a serving or two to a batch of something (or a recipe that already has nuts in it) you can’t really taste it. I’ve made nearly duplicate muffins where one had it and one didn’t and neither the kids nor the husband noticed.

The only difference I personally can see in the final results (and it’s probably only because I know I put it in there) is that flax seed makes it more bindy.

Is bindy a word?

Probably not, but you know how eggs makes baked goods bind together? Like a glue? Flax seed does the same thing, but in a subtle manner. In a blind taste test, my family actually preferred the muffins with flax because they tend to be more moist and don’t crumble apart when you take bites.

And yes, I actually blind folded the kids and husband!

Kidding… but that would be fun!

My magic ratio is one tablespoon of flax for every cup of flour. I used to take one tablespoon of flour out in order to keep the total amount of dry ingredients the same, but I don’t really do that anymore unless my flax is up to 1/4 cup or more.

Notice that I’m only adding a little – not a lot. Adding more would significantly alter my recipe – and that’s fine – but it’s not my goal.

Now that we know how to increase the nutrition of the food we already eat, without sacrificing taste or altering family favorite recipes, lets get on to the best ways to use flaxseed!

18 Ways to Use Flaxseed

1. Make An Egg Replacer

Whether you ran out of eggs or are baking for someone who’s allergic to eggs, you can use flaxseed as a replacement for eggs in many recipes that typically call for eggs.

To make a flax egg (as it’s affectionately referred to), mix 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes to thicken. (Read the full tutorial here.)

Flax egg doesn’t bind and stiffen like eggs do in recipes, so it’s not always a 1:1 substitution. However, using flaxseed as an egg replacer works really well in recipes like pancakes, brownies, muffins, cookies and quick breads.

2. In Breaded Chicken Recipes

Beef up the nutritional value of your breaded chicken or crusted tilapia by adding flaxseed to the coating mixture.

A good starting point is 1-2 Tablespoons flaxseed per cup of breadcrumbs. Flaxseed has a slightly nutty flavor and would compliment any coconut or herb based coating. It would be good on homemade chicken nuggets or almond crusted chicken.

3. Make an Egg-less “Egg Wash”

The reason French toast is crispy and the coating of baked chicken comes out crunchy is because of the egg wash. But making an egg-less “egg wash” a great way to use flaxseed.

To make an egg-less “egg wash,” combine 1 Tablespoon flaxseed with 1 cup milk and any other flavors you usually add when you’re making French toast (i.e. cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc.). Let this mixture sit for 10-20 minutes and stir before using.

4. As a Thickener

I’m kinda picky about texture on certain things, like applesauce. I like my homemade applesauce to be thick. I don’t care if it has chunks or not, but I don’t like runny applesauce.

Use flaxseed to thicken applesauce or cottage cheese or any other dish that might be too watery. Start with adding ½ tsp flaxseed to ½ cup of your item and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add additional flax as needed until you reach the desired thickness.

5. Make Homemade Pudding

Traditional pudding is made with eggs, but since you can use flaxseed in lieu of eggs in other recipes, why not use flaxseed in homemade pudding!

For a basic flaxseed pudding recipe, combine 3 Tablespoons flaxseed with ½ cup milk. You can add honey or maple syrup to sweeten, or even ¼ tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to flavor. Combine everything in a jar and let it sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or overnight. Stir before enjoying!

6. In Lieu of Breadcrumbs

Think of all the recipes that call for breadcrumbs… meatloaf, meatballs, baked macaroni and cheese, crab cakes… Now think of all the ways you can use flaxseeds instead!

For recipes that use a small amount of breadcrumbs as a binder, like meatloaf and meatballs, swap flaxseeds directly for the breadcrumbs.

For recipes that use a larger amount of breadcrumbs, swap flaxseed for part of the breadcrumbs. I’d start with substituting up to ¼ of the breadcrumbs with flaxseeds, and then taste and adjust as needed.

Here’s how you make your own breadcrumbs.

7. Add to Granola Recipes

The most basic granola recipe is essentially toasted oats and in my opinion, is fairly boring. But when you add other delicious and healthy ingredients like flaxseed, granola becomes incredibly delicious and borderline gourmet!

Start with your favorite granola recipe (strawberry chocolate and cranberry orange and classic cinnamon are the winners in our house) and add 2 tablespoons of flaxseed per 1 cup of oats when you add the other dry ingredients.

8. Add to Granola Bar Recipes

Since you can use flaxseed as a binder, it only makes sense to add it to foods that are already bound together, like granola bars!

Again, start with your favorite recipe (I recommend no bake soft and chewy peanut butter chocolate chips granola bars) and add 2 tablespoons of flaxseed per 1 cup of oats. Be sure to incorporate the flaxseeds well in any granola bar recipe, so that they’re evenly distributed among the wet ingredients.

I use flaxseed specifically in my no bake sweet and salty energy bites.

9. In Lieu of Oat Bran, Wheat Germ and/or Wheat Bran

Oat bran and wheat germ are often used in baking recipes to add nutritional value, but neither of these ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores. If you’re allergic to wheat or are celiac, wheat germ is not an option. Luckily, you can use flaxseed instead!

Substitute flaxseed for oat bran, wheat germ and/or wheat bran in a 1:1 ratio. A great recipe to give this a try is mix-and-match homemade granola bars.

10. Add to Smoothies

Adding flaxseed to smoothies isn’t a new concept, but it’s so simple and effective that it’s worth repeating.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed per 1 serving of smoothie. Flaxseed will absorb some of the liquid as it sits so either drink quickly or add another ¼ – 1/2 cup liquid to the smoothie recipe to compensate.

Tip: This is one way to boost the protein profile in homemade protein smoothies!

11. Add to Thick Soups and Stews

It’s still summer, but when I’m making slow cooker soups this fall, flaxseed will fit right in.

The amount of flax you can add to your soup will depend on the type of soup it is. For soups that are thin and mostly broth, add 1-2 tablespoons per cup of stock. For soups that are thicker, like stews or chili, can add 3-4 tablespoons per cup of stock.

12. Sprinkle on Peanut Butter

Anytime you eat peanut butter, you can probably eat flaxseed too. Making a PBJ for lunch? Sprinkle some flaxseed on top.

Topping toast with peanut butter and honey? Sprinkle some flaxseed on top.

13. Thicken Natural Peanut Butter

You know how the oils in natural peanut butter will separate and rise to the top of the jar? Take the thickening properties of flaxseed and put them to work in your peanut butter jar!

Start by adding 1 teaspoon of flaxseed per 15-16 ounces of peanut butter. Stir it together well and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, but preferably overnight. Stir again and if the oil continues to separate more than you’d like, add another 1 teaspoon flaxseed and repeat the process. Remember that you can always add more flaxseed to thicken, but it’s harder to add more oil to thin.

Related: How to Make Your Own Nut Butter

14. Add to Cracker Recipes

The most basic homemade cracker recipe is only 3 ingredients, and adding flax is an easy way to boost the nutrition of an otherwise very plain cracker!

Add 1-2 teaspoon per cup of flour to the recipe. You might have to add additional liquid to compensate for the additional dry ingredient.

Another option is to make the cracker recipe as-is, and then sprinkle flaxseed on top just prior to baking.

15. Sprinkle on Top of Salads

When mixed with other ingredients, flaxseed looks a lot like ground pepper. And when it’s all mixed up with greens and veggies and homemade salad dressing, you can’t even taste it.

For a single serving salad, sprinkle ½-1 teaspoon of flaxseed on top. Dress the salad and toss before serving. For main meal salads, use 1-2 tablespoons flaxseed.

16. Add to Sauces

Wednesday is pasta night in our house. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s a “night off” from cooking bigger meals in the kitchen. It’s also a prime opportunity to use flaxseed!

Add 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed per 1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (we like meat-based hearty spaghetti sauce). This is also a great way to “doctor up” store-bought pasta sauces.

17. Add to Hummus

If you can get your family to eat beans, then flaxseed is a no-brainer. If there’s a bean-hater in your family, I recommend either chocolate hummus or cookie dough hummus. Both are amazing and will have kids (and husbands!) asking for more.

Depending on the recipe, you’ll want to add between 1-2 teaspoons of flaxseed to 1 cup of hummus. Add less for recipes where a nutty flavor will stand out. Add more for recipes that compliment the nutty flavor of flaxseed.

18. In Lieu of Butter and/or Oil

I’m a huge fan of butter, so I don’t know if I’ll ever try this substitution idea or not, but it might be perfect for those who can’t have butter or oil for whatever reason.

Substitute 1 tablespoon butter or oil with 3 tablespoons flaxseed.

Wow – that’s a pretty amazing list of ways to use flaxseed, don’t you think?

With all of these ideas, you can bet I’ve got some awesome flaxseed recipes coming up!!

Do you use flaxseed at home? What other ways do you incorporate it into your foods?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hodgson Mill. I’ve been using Hodgson Mill products in my kitchen for a long time now, and long before this blog was born. As always, I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor, and all opinions here are my own.

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Healthy food trends — flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy plant-based fats, and antioxidants that help prevent cell damage

Flaxseeds are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber which help keep your bowel movements regular and prevent constipation. Flaxseeds are also a good source of:

  • Vitamins B1, B2, and B6
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese

These vitamins and minerals help support your energy, immune system, nervous system, bones, blood, heartbeat, and many other bodily processes.

Flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3s and omega-6s which are essential fatty acids (substances that your body needs to function). These substances are not made in the body. You must get them from foods like seafood and flaxseeds.

Oils, such as canola and soybean oil, contain the same fatty acids as flax oil. But flax oil contains more. Next to seafood, flax oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating flaxseeds can help boost your omega-3s, though flax primarily provides ALA, not EPA and DHA.

Half of flaxseed calories come from fat. But this is healthy fat that helps boost your “good cholesterol.” The small amount would not prevent weight control.

Consuming flaxseeds has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Researchers are looking at whether consuming more of the essential fatty acids found in flaxseeds will improve blood pressure, blood sugar, heart health, and other areas.

If you plan to consume flaxseeds or flax oil on a regular basis, talk with your doctor. It may affect how certain medicines work.

May 2013 Issue

What’s New in Flax? — We’re Glad You Asked
By Juliann Schaeffer
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 15 No. 5 P. 34

Products flood the marketplace as research continues to show flaxseeds offer cardiovascular and other health benefits.

Flaxseeds: These tiny bits pack one mighty punch of health benefits, and the market surely has taken notice. Once relegated to the shelves of health food stores and reserved for the “crunchy health-nut type,” flaxseeds have gone mainstream (thanks in part to how well dietitians and other health professionals are spreading the word on all the goodness flax has to offer). Included in chips, granolas, cereals, and more, getting a daily dose of this superseed is easier (and tastier) than ever.

Teeming With Health Benefits
While all the healthful components of flax have yet to be identified and catalogued (as is true of most whole foods), current research has shown that flax’s chief nutritional attributes—from cancer risk reduction to cardiovascular protection—are owed to three main parts of the seed: lignans, fiber, and omega-3s.

• Lignans: “Flaxseed contains a high percentage of lignans, phytochemicals that have been found to be beneficial to health,” says Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, a clinical dietitian and diabetes educator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

A high percentage, indeed: Flax has up to 800 times the phytochemicals of what’s commonly found in other oil seeds, according to cardiovascular nutritionist and author Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN, CSSD.

What’s so great about lignans? “Lignans, classified as a dietary fiber, are a type of phytoestrogen, meaning they’re hormonelike plant structures with weak estrogenlike effects,” Brill explains. “Lignans are metabolized in the human intestine by friendly bacterial flora and are absorbed and circulated in the bloodstream. Here they exert powerful antioxidant effects that inhibit the process of atherosclerosis, cut LDL cholesterol, certain types of cancers—specifically the hormone-related breast and prostate cancers—and can contribute to increased brain function much like estrogen replacement therapy.

“The lignans in flaxseeds function as both an antioxidant and a plant hormone, extremely powerful plaque-fighting tools,” Brill continues. “Lignans also help prevent platelets from clumping together, thereby warding off clot formation, which is often the lethal final step in a heart attack.”

A 2011 study published in Contemporary Clinical Trials that examined the cardiovascular benefits of flaxseeds showed that flax offers blood pressure-lowering benefits as well. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study out of Cuba, called FLAX-PAD, found “that adding flaxseed to the diets of hypertensive patients with peripheral arterial disease has extremely impressive blood pressure-lowering effects,” Brill says.

After patients with PAD were divided into two groups (receiving either 30 g of milled flaxseed daily or a placebo), the results showed that flaxseed-consuming participants saw drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of roughly 10 mm Hg and 7 mm Hg, respectively, after just six months.

In addition, much research has centered on lignans’ cancer-inhibiting properties. Brill points to a 2007 study from Duke University that looked at lignans’ possible role in preventing prostate cancer and found that flaxseeds can “prevent prostate cancer cells from sticking together, in effect stopping tumor growth in its tracks.”

A more recent study, published last month in Cancer Causes & Control, showed an association between flaxseed consumption and reduced breast cancer risk. “Lignans promote breast and prostate health, and have been shown to reduce the risk of cancers caused by hormones, like breast cancer,” says Rachel Berman, RD, director of nutrition at CalorieCount.com. “Lignans are considered to be hormone balancers, and as antioxidants, they function to promote cell health to reduce risk of these cancers and other cell damage.”

These lignans also can help improve blood sugar in diabetes patients. According to Brill, a preliminary 2007 study published in PloS One “suggests daily intake of the lignans in flaxseeds may modestly improve blood sugar, as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with diabetes. The lignan supplement significantly improved glycemic control as measured by hemoglobin A1c.”

• Omega-3s: If any of your clients are crazy about flaxseeds, it’s probably because they’ve heard about their high omega-3 content. “The spotlight on flaxseeds generally points to their richness in omega-3 fatty acids, ‘good’ fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects,” Brill says, noting that flax is chock-full of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), “the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely cardioprotective in terms of fighting inflammation.”

“ help decrease risk of inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis,” Berman adds.

While Brill notes that the research regarding ALA’s cardiovascular benefits still is in its infancy compared with the research linking the consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA with heart health, she says recent studies, such as a 2009 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have shown flaxseed consumption lowers blood LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with either high or normal blood cholesterol levels. “The majority of published clinical trials with humans show that eating a daily dose of flaxseeds, between 2 and 6 T, can lower LDL cholesterol up to 18%,” she says, noting that this applies to whole flaxseed consumption, not flaxseed oil.

Incorporating just 2 T of flaxseed into your daily diet will provide about 3 1/2 g of ALA, which exceeds the amount recommended by the National Institutes of Health, Brill says.

Flax isn’t the only food source of ALA, notes Michelle Dudash, RD, a Cordon Bleu-certified chef and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. She says the amount of flax clients should shoot for daily depends on what other ALA sources they’re regularly eating. “Walnuts, soybeans, avocados, and chia seeds also are good sources of ALA, so if you’re eating one or two of these foods on most days, you don’t necessarily need to eat flaxseed every day,” she says. “If you get a good mix of these foods regularly, you’ll probably be in good shape. But 2 to 3 tsp of flaxseed meal is a sure-fire way to get the ALAs you need daily.”

• Fiber: Flaxseeds’ high-fiber content is a third reason to consider a regular flaxseed regimen. “Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types —healthful for the digestive and cardiovascular systems,” Brill says, noting that 25% of this is soluble fiber. “Loaded with soluble fiber, flaxseeds work like a sponge to absorb cholesterol in your digestive track so that you excrete it.”

Just 2 T of flaxseed provides roughly 4 g of fiber, which has been shown to help relieve constipation and several other conditions. “The fiber content—both soluble and insoluble—adds bulk and helps clean out the digestive tract, and can help with controlling cholesterol and stabilizing blood glucose,” Berman says. “Therefore, it can have benefits for those suffering from digestive issues, heart disease, and diabetes.”

While these are the most current researched benefits of flaxseed, other studies have investigated the seed’s possible role in reducing hot flashes and improving insulin resistance, though results thus far have proved inconclusive.

Fitting Flax Into At-Home Meals
Because of its potential cardioprotective benefits alone, Brill has no issue recommending daily flax consumption for her clientele. “Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death in American men and women and we’re all at risk, I recommend all people incorporate flax into their diet to the tune of 2 to 3 g of ALA per day,” she says, which equates to between 1 and 2 T of ground flaxseeds daily.

So how can clients get their daily serving of ALA? For breakfast, Dudash suggests sprinkling ground flax on oatmeal or toast or blending it into morning smoothies.
“I also love using flaxseed meal as an egg replacer if I’m looking to make a vegan recipe, such as my Quick-Fix Trail Mix Snack Bars or Almond Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies,” she adds. To use flaxseed in place of an egg when baking, Brill suggests the following ratio: 3 T water to 1 T ground flaxseed, which equates to one egg.

For tasty lunch options, suggest clients use flax oil to make salad dressing or sprinkle ground flax on top of salads for a crunchy treat. Clients also can prepare homemade muffins or breads with flax baked in.

Massey likes mixing ground flax into tuna, chicken, or egg salads, and adding flaxseeds to mustard or mayonnaise before spreading on sandwiches.

Brill mixes flaxseeds with whole grains for a sweet yet slightly nutty dinner option. And Dudash says flax makes a great breading for chicken or fish, again eliminating the need for egg.

To note, the RDs whom Today’s Dietitian interviewed here suggested consuming the whole, ground flaxseed rather than flax oil, which contains just part of the seed, when possible to ensure clients ingest all the components and enjoy all the potential health benefits. For safe storage, clients should place flaxseeds in a sealed plastic container. Although many people have suggested refrigerating or freezing flaxseeds to preserve the omega-3 fats (which have been said to be highly perishable), Diane Morris, PhD, RD, a consultant who researched and wrote many fact sheets for the Flax Council of Canada, says this is unnecessary and an unfortunate myth perpetuated about flax. “Whole flaxseeds can be stored at room temperature for up to four months,” she says. “To maintain freshness longer, store in a plastic container in the refrigerator or freezer.”

What’s Sprouting in Supermarkets
Whether clients are looking for ground flax to bake into morning muffins or prepackaged products containing flax, you’ll want to tell them what they’re likely to find at their local grocer.

When looking for ground flaxseeds, Brill says clients can choose from the more familiar dark-brown, glossy seeds and the golden-colored variety. “Both are similar in terms of nutritional makeup; however, you will most likely find only the dark-brown seeds readily available in supermarkets and health food stores.”

Flaxseeds also can be bought milled or whole. Brill suggests the preground variety, which is more convenient. The nutrients in ground flaxseeds are more available, and it’s also easier to digest than the whole variety.

Flaxseed blends also are available for clients looking to add a bit more pizzazz to homemade meals. Carrington Farms offers a new Flax Chia blend, which combines organic milled flaxseeds with chia seeds. Linwoods Health Foods offers five Superfood Flaxseed blends that incorporate pumpkin seeds, goji berries, strawberries, cocoa, and blueberries along with flaxseeds for an added flavorful punch.

Carrington Farms and Linwoods both offer bulk packs of their blends as well as individual-portioned packs, which clients may find easier to use on the go. “This way you decrease the chances of spoilage when buying in bulk,” Berman says.

If clients are interested in flaxseed oil, Massey says they shouldn’t cook with it “because it doesn’t preserve its nutritional quality when cooked at high temperatures. Flaxseed oil also should be refrigerated,” she says.

Beyond straight-up flaxseed, supermarkets have seen an influx of products containing flax in the past few years. “Flaxseed is everywhere,” Dudash says, “including in crackers, tortilla chips, breakfast cereal, granola, and bread.”

Recent research on flax’s health benefits may have contributed to the influx of food products with flax. “Research that has come out on all the benefits of flaxseed have definitely made it a wonder food over the past years,” Berman says. “Marketers have taken advantage of the benefits, creating the trend and a plethora of products in the marketplace.”

According to Berman, most of the products she’s seen fall into the grains category: breads and crackers as well as oatmeals and cereals. In addition to ground flaxseed varieties, Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Cereal and 5 Grain Rolled Cereal both contain flaxseeds. Better Oats’ RAW Pure & Simple is a line of multigrain hot cereal with flax, in pomegranate, chai spice, and other flavors. And Nature’s Path makes Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax hot oatmeal.

In the granola category, Nature’s Path recently launched its Flax Plus Pumpkin Flax Granola, and Bear Naked makes a Peak Flax granola. Kashi and KIND both offer bars made with flax (Kashi’s Pumpkin Spice Flax Granola bar and KIND’s Almond, Cashew With Flax + Omega-3 bar).

“There are also frozen breakfasts, like ready-to-go frozen pancakes and waffles that contain flaxseeds,” Berman says. Nature’s Path and Kashi are two options clients can buy if they want a morning flax infusion.

For a flax snack, Way Better Snacks’ Simply Sprouted line of tortilla chips now is available, with its Simply Beyond Black Bean variety, which incorporates flax and quinoa. Food Should Taste Good also offers multigrain chips made with flaxseeds.

Flax-packed soups, breakfast drinks, salad dressings, and cakes also can be found in stores. However, no matter how many flax products are out there, RDs recommend clients look at the product’s entire nutrient profile before heading to the checkout line—especially if they’re buying the products for the potential health benefits.

“Products that offer other benefits, such as cereals that give your body vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc, are better options than foods high in sugar that just contain added flaxseed,” Berman says. “The addition of flaxseed doesn’t automatically make a food ‘healthful’ or ‘good for you.’ Other ingredients, such as sugar and sodium, or additives for preservation purposes outweigh the benefits of the added flaxseed. Always read the nutrition label for educated decisions.”

— Juliann Schaeffer is a freelance writer and editor based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a frequent contributor to Today’s Dietitian.

Strawberry-Smothered Flaxseed Pancakes

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

For the pancakes:
1 T ground flaxseed
3 T warm water
1 large banana
1 T nut butter (like almond butter)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:
1/4 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp honey

Directions
1. Mix ground flaxseed in warm water until dissolved. Place in freezer while preparing other ingredients.

2. To make the topping: In a blender, blend the strawberries and place in a bowl. Add Greek yogurt and honey, and mix together.

3. To make the pancakes, blend the banana, nut butter, and cinnamon. Then blend in the slightly chilled flaxseed mixture. Spray or grease a frying pan with oil to prevent sticking, and pour the mixture in 1 T at a time to make small rounds. Let cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly browned, then flip and cook the other side.

4. Pour strawberry mixture over the pancakes and enjoy.

— Recipe courtesy of Rachel Berman, RD

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