Flaxseeds: Health Benefits and Uses

Flaxseed varieties

Often sought more for health benefits than for culinary use (they have little flavor), flaxseeds are a valuable source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are otherwise challenging to obtain in vegetarian and vegan diets. Flax is also a good source of a type of soluble fiber that helps maintain ideal cholesterol levels. It provides Omega-6 fatty acids and many essential minerals.

 

Until recently, it has been necessary to buy whole flaxseeds and grind them in a spice or coffee grinder to get their full benefits. Now, pre-ground flaxseeds are available, making them handy to use not only in baked goods but for sprinkling over hot and cold cereals, salads, pasta, etc.Another way to reap flaxseeds’ fatty acid benefits is by using the oil in salads or dressings (direct exposure to heat damages the nutrients). One teaspoon oil or one and a half tablespoons of ground seeds per day provide a good supplement to the healthy vegetarian or vegan diet. Both the flaxseeds and flax oil are highly perishable, so keep them refrigerated.

brown and golden flaxseedsFlaxseeds come in a range of hues from golden to brown. Both whole and ground seeds are best kept refrigerated. Something often overlooked is that whole flax seeds don’t break down when eaten, they go right through the digestive tract without bestowing any of their many benefits. If you do buy the whole seeds, make sure to grind them (coffee grinders work well), or stick with pre-ground flax seeds to get the most value.

Flaxseeds are thought to be good for improving dry hair and for alleviating constipation. They are high in unsaturated fats, protein, iron, phosphorus, and the B vitamin niacin. Flaxseeds contains lignans, which are chemical compounds that carry antioxidants and enzymes that have many benefits. Flax is also a good source of a type of soluble fiber that helps maintain ideal cholesterol levels. It provides Omega-6 fatty acids and many essential minerals.

Ground flaxseeds can be sprinkled over salads, salads, grain dishes, or cereals. Allow 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds per serving. Cook ground seeds along with hot cereals. Add a tablespoon or two to bread or muffin dough or combine with bread crumbs to make a topping for casseroles.

Flaxseed Egg Replacement
To make the equivalent of 1 egg, do the following: 

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water.
  2. Let it sit about 15 to 30 minutes, To replace one egg, combine 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons water.
  3. Stir together and let stand for 15 to 30 minutes, or until thick and gelatinous.

A few recipes using flaxseeds:

For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, please explore our Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.
Here are more of VegKitchen’s Natural Food Guides.

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