The Flax thing

15 Nov

Yesterday I was munching on some chips that had flax seed in them, which my mother in law told me she heard flax is good to eat.  This comment made me wonder about how informed people are about food items they are told are good for them.  It seems that recently flax seed is being added into so many different snack bars, chips and breads.  I do enjoy the benefits of flax seed and yesterdays conversation did encourage me to add some flax seeds into my oatmeal this morning.  I really want to share some information about flax seeds with you since making informed decisions, especially when choosing what to eat is important to me.

First though, I’ll get a little recap in.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day so Jacob, Joe and I went for a 90 minute walk along the dike.  I thought the walk would take care of the restlessness my legs were feeling from the 8 miler I got in the day before but that wasn’t the case.  I decided to go for a short 1.7 mile run and some stretching/foam rolling afterward.  It took about 1-2 hours after the run for my legs to feel back to normal and this morning they are feeling great.

Food wise I spent most of the day nibbling and just had left over curry chicken salad for dinner.  I guess I was having a lazy Saturday.

I feel like today’s going to be a much more enjoyable food day.  I started this morning with my delicious oatmeal (1/2 cup soymilk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup oats, 1 banana, flax seed, cinnamon and almond butter).

flax banana oats

Now back to the flax thing.

I have this book that gives a heap of information about superstar foods, which includes flax seeds.  Flax seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, lignans and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) an Omega-3 fatty acid.

Now if you’re wondering what the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber is I’ll tell you.  Soluble fiber helps decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol  by forming a gel like substance in the intestine that pulls the bad cholesterol out with it. Insoluble fiber keeps everything going.  It helps alleviate constipation and really doesn’t change much while passing through the digestive system.  I think of insoluble fiber as the push since it pushes through the digestive system and keeps everything running smoothly, and soluble fiber as the pull because it pulls the bad cholesterol out of the body.

Lignans are a group of phytoestrogens.  Phytoestrogens are an estrogen like chemical compound found in plants.  Some research shows that lignans may reduce the effects of menopause and PMS, and also help protect against some hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancer.

ALA an Omega-3 fatty acids can’t be made by the body so to receive its benefits we have to eat food that contain it.  ALA is important for regulating blood pressure, for cell membrane health and it also helps prevent against inflammatory conditions.

I try to use ground flax seeds instead of flax oil.  When you use flax oil you lose the fiber and lignans.  Also, if using whole flax seeds try to crush them up a bit so they don’t just pass through your body without the nutrients being absorbed.  Ground flax seeds are the best option in my opinion.

Different ways to use flax seeds:

  • Add ground or crushed flax seed to your oatmeal, cold cereals, bread or pizza doughs, cookies or bars.
  • Instead of breadcrumbs in your meatballs or meatloaf use ground flax seed.
  • Add a tsp of flax oil to your smoothy.
  • Make a pesto using a combo of flax seeds and your favorite other nuts

Do you use flax seeds?  In what?

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One Response to “The Flax thing”

  1. Kathleen December 30, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    Like you mentioned – flaxseed is so easy to use. I typically sprinkly ground flaxseed on my oatmeal or salad everyday. It has a great texture and adds a little nutty taste to everything. If you want some great informaiton on flax check out flaxmatters.com

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