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Superfood Series: Get Fit and Healthy with Flaxseeds
Anne Mari Ronquillo
Published on

Healthy seeds grown right from the earth are very alluring these days because you’re basically sprinkling them over your food. You can use them to season your ‘kale and eggs’ breakfast, or to layer a parfait if you’re feeling fancy.

Flaxseeds or linseeds have generated quite the buzz in the plant-based, superfood-loving community for being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many people feel like they are literally planting the seeds of health whenever they consume this trendy supplement. But what exactly are flaxseeds and why should we open ourselves up to their wonders?

We’ll get right to the important parts: how do we eat them?

To get the full nutritional benefits of flaxseeds, you must grind them. They won’t get digested by simply eating them in their seed form, which would be a total waste. Buy them whole and use a spice mill or a food processor for grinding. The high oil content in flaxseeds puts it at a higher risk of going rancid, so if they smell a little off—some say fishy—then it’s a sign that it must have gone bad.

What should they taste like?

Flaxseeds hold a nutty flavor that isn’t really that surprising to anyone who exclusively eats food bought from the local health store. This is why we often see flaxseeds mixed with baked desserts and smoothie bowls: they add texture and make great nutritional accessories!

Onto the nutritional highlights: what are we getting out of all this?

Fiber! Phytochemicals! Alpha linolenic fats! These words aren’t that hard to pronounce and are definitely edible. Flaxseed oil is desired for its omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA) content. ALA reduces the risk of high blood pressure, helps improve lung function, and promotes skin health.

Meanwhile, it’s also a high-fiber, low-carb food that eases the strain on our bodies caused by diabetes. The lignans (a group of chemical compounds) found in flaxseeds are excellent antioxidants which help prevent cellular changes that lead to cancer. Flaxseeds are rich in vitamins B1 (thiamine) which supports a healthy metabolism and helps produce new DNA.

It should be noted that flaxseed oil has different benefits than ground flaxseed. The oil contains concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids without the protein, fibers, and other vitamins and minerals present in ground flaxseed.

How much flaxseed do I need in a day?

If you’re a healthy adult with no dietary restrictions, you can consume up to two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds in a day. Make sure you start with a smaller amount to see how you tolerate the food, or to check for any allergic reactions. You can build up your intake in a matter of days.

Pregnant women are only recommended up to a tablespoon, though, so you’ll need to check with your doctor before peppering your oatmeal with flaxseeds. People who want to lose weight or are constipated may consume more, but the fibers in flaxseed will require you to drink more water.

How do you take your flaxseeds? Share us your answers by commenting here or tagging us on Facebook or Instagram @iamclaireph!