Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Nutrition and Power of Flax Seed

Flax seeds are a wonderful resource in the kitchen. While providing a variety of nutritional benefits, it also offers a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fiber for your diet.

What health conditions can flax aid? Flax consumption can help reduce cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content. Flax is high in the Omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), which is beneficial for inflammation-based maladies like arthritis. Several factors deem flax to be excellent for cancer prevention. The high amount of lignans (a phytoestrogen), Omega 3, and fiber all contribute to its cancer-fighting potential. A great blood sugar regular, flax can be especially beneficial to diabetics. There are many more conditions that flax can prevent or relieve.

Ran out of eggs? Mix one tablespoon of ground flax seed with three tablespoons of water for a binding agent.

Golden or brown? Flax appears in golden and brown varieties. Both have similar nutritional benefits, but some prefer the nutty and buttery taste of golden flax.

Best way to get flax? It is recommended that you buy whole flax seed and then grind with a coffee grinder or blender. Grind small batches and keep the remaining seeds in the fridge or, better yet, the freezer. Once ground, it is recommended you store it in the refrigerator and use within six weeks or so. Whole seeds will not offer maximum benefits, as they will likely pass through your system undigested.

Easiest way to consume ground flax seed? Sprinkle ground flax seed on oatmeal, in yogurt or cottage cheese. A tablespoon is a good amount to start with. Start slowly, so you can gauge the effect it will have on your digestive system.

Flax meal, or oil? Both are good sources of ALA, but the oil won’t give you the high fiber present in the meal. Whole flax seeds are also considerably less expensive than the flax oil. Flax seed oil is best absorbed when taken with food. Heat will damage the valuable nutritional content, so keep refrigerated and do not use in high heat cooking.

Fun flax fact: Some organic dairy farms are feeding their cows flax grain, which has been proven to reduce the cows’ methane emissions and improves the nutritional quality of their milk.

One tablespoon (7 grams) of ground flax seed contains:
37 calories
3 grams of fat
2 grams of carbohydrates
2 grams of fiber
1 gram of protein
1597 mg of Omega 3
414 mg of Omega 6

Thiamin: 8%
Riboflavin: 1%
Niacin: 1%
Vitamin B6: 2%
Folate: 2%
Pantothenic Acid: 1%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 2%
Magnesium: 7%
Phosphorus: 4%
Potassium: 2%
Zinc: 2%
Copper: 4%
Manganese: 9%
Selenium: 3%

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