Flaxseeds are a Super Sidekick that deserve special attention because these seeds are a great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re a quick, easy way to get this important nutrient into your diet.
The Powerful Benefits of Flaxseeds
These small seeds are also a powerful source of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and potassium: an all-around treasure trove of nutrients. Flaxseeds are also the leading source of a class of compounds called “lignins,” which are phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens. Lignins influence the balance of estrogens in the body and help protect against breast cancer.
Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds, darker in color—they range from dark red to brown—and very slimy. You can buy them in the form of flaxseed meal, or you can buy them in seed form and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder or mini food processor. The seeds must be ground, as the nutrients are difficult to absorb from the whole seed.
Since the oil in flaxseeds spoils quickly, ideally it’s best to grind them as you go. Some people use a grinder, dedicated to flaxseeds, and grind them daily. It only take a few seconds!
How to Use Flaxseeds
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed a day on oatmeal, cereal, and yogurt, or use it in smoothies, pancakes, muffins, and quick breads.
All you need is one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day. This gives you more than the Institute of Medicine’s total daily recommendation for alpha linolenic acid (ALA, or plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids). Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed is a safe amount, geared to providing optimal nutrition, and there are no data suggesting that this amount of flaxseed/ALA has any deleterious effect.