Health Benefits of Flax Seeds
Flax seeds have recently been given the designation of a super food. According to Gloria Tsang, RD, over at HealthCastle.com these tiny seeds are not just a super food, but rank number two on a list of the top five healthiest foods. Gloria’s article 5 Super Foods: the Next Generation, lists the top five foods picked by dieticians. They are: walnuts, flax seeds, pomegranates, salmon, and dark greens such as kale, chard, collard greens and bok choy.
What is it about flax seeds that put them at the number two spot on the list?
The list of health benefits of flax seeds is lengthy so I’ll summarize.
1. Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Out of 129 foods on the World’s Healthiest Foods list, flaxseeds come out number one as a source of omega-3s. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are numerous. Most significant is the role that they play in boosting heart health and lowering triglycerides. But studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acids may also help with other conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, depression, prenatal health, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Flax seeds are high in fiber which is known to improve the health of the digestive tract and assist the intestines with the absorption of nutrients.
3. Flax seeds are loaded with antioxidants. Research has shown that eating foods high in antioxidants will help lower the risk of not only cardiovascular disease, but type 2 diabetes, asthma, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. When flax seeds are compared to other antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries and olives, flaxseeds rank ninth in total polyphenol content. (Polyphenols are a group of important antioxidants.)
4. Flax seeds contain high amounts of other nutrients that are key to good nutrition: manganese (17.5%); vitamin B1 15.3%; magnesium 13.7%; tryptophan (12.5%) and phosphorus (8.9%). Two tablespoons of flax seeds is about 74 calories.
5. Flax seeds have been shown to be effective in the prevention of some cancers. Evidence of reduced risk is the strongest for breast, prostate and colon cancers due to the high level of antioxidants found in the seeds.
Incorporating Flax Seeds Into Your Diet
Flax Seeds can be purchased whole or ground. It is recommended that the seeds be ground before they are eaten to increase their digestibility. If you buy the whole seeds they can be quickly ground in a coffee or spice grinder. Pre-ground seeds are easier to use but have a shorter shelf life, which makes the whole seeds a better nutritional choice if you don’t mind grinding them yourself.
Ground seeds can be added to homemade cookie, muffin and bread recipes, oatmeal, cold cereal, smoothies, and sprinkled on vegetables.
Because of the high fiber content, some people experience gastrointestinal discomfort when they first begin incorporating the seeds into their diet. Start with a small amount and increase the quantity slowly as your system adjusts to the increased fiber.
For a detailed report on the health benefits of flax seeds, there’s an excellent article at WHFoods.com.
Here’s a Quick, Easy and Delicious Recipe for Peanut Butter Protein Balls with Flax Seeds
A friend gave me recipe for protein balls that incorporates flax seeds. These balls are good before or after a workout, or as a healthy snack anytime.
3 cups of whole oats
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1/2 to 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup flax seed
Mix all ingredients well. Put the bowl with the mixture in the freezer for five to 10 minutes. Once balls are firm, roll into one inch balls.
If balls are too sticky to roll, put them back in the freezer for 10 more minutes. Put balls on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for a couple of hours.
Take out of freezer and put them in a freezer bag to store. Makes around 40 balls.
You can substitute other ingredients for the semi-sweet chocolate chips. I used raisins in mine. Yummy!
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