A reader asks the following question:
“How is the best way to eat flaxseed? Is there a limit to how much I can eat?
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s the answer . . .
Flaxseed – The Reason to Add to Your Diet
Flaxseed is a concentrated plant source of Omega-3 fatty acid. As most people now know, Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy nutrients that have an anti-inflammatory property. Flaxseed also contains phytoestrogens which help balance estrogen levels in the body. Flaxseed is also a concentrated source of phytonutrients that are converted to beneficial intestinal flora. Flaxseed also has antioxidant properties to rid the body of free radical damage. Flaxseed is an excellent source of dietary fiber, with a ratio of 2:1 insoluble to soluble fiber. This can improve constipation and possibly lower cholesterol.
Flaxseed – The Best Forms
You can find flaxseed whole, ground, and pressed into oil. Personally, I like to purchase and work with whole flaxseeds because it gives me the most control over what I ingest. Start by purchasing small amounts of whole flaxseed. If you purchase in bulk, ensure that the store has quick turnover, cleans the empty containers, and the containers are well sealed. This protects the freshness of the flaxseeds. Whole flaxseeds will last the longest in the refrigerator. Grind the whole flaxseeds at home in a coffee grinder right before adding to your food to obtain the highest level of nutrients. Whole flaxseeds need to be group to break the hard outer shell and allow for the best digestion/absorption.
If you choose flaxseed oil, look for a refrigerated, dark glass bottle. It should be organic and expeller cold pressed. There is also filtered flaxseed oil which is strained to remove more of any possible contaminants. Purchase small bottles at a time and continue to store the flaxseed oil in your refrigerator in order to protect it from oxidative rancidity.
Flaxseed – For Cooking?
Flaxseed oil is delicate so I don’t recommend heating it. But, current research indicates that the Omega-3 oils and phytonutrients in flaxseeds are surprisingly heat stable. The theory is that the presence of plant lignans make the flaxseeds more resistant to heating. So, feel free to add ground flaxseeds to baked goods.
Flaxseed – Adding It To Your Diet
There are many ways to add flaxseed to your diet. Grind flaxseed and mix with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, pressed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper for a quick dressing. Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on fruit, cooked vegetables, nut butters, dairy products (yogurt or cottage cheese), add to smoothies, granola, or baked goods, and top salads with it.
Flaxseed – How Much To Add
Adding flaxseeds too quickly can cause mild digestive problems for some people. I recommend starting with a teaspoon daily and working up to 1-2 Tbs. per day. Make sure you grind the flaxseed right before adding to your foods and chew well. Small seeds can get stuck in the intestinal tract if not well chewed. Remember we want to eat in a manner that allows us to chew our liquids and drink our solids.