In Mandy’s Pantry: Flax Seeds

It’s Saturday today, so you’re likely going to be doing a grocery shop today or tomorrow for the week.  I certainly hope that flax seeds are on your list! 🙂

The majority of the recipes I’ve posted so far have flax seeds in them, and for good reason.  I’ve explained a bit in other posts about how they’re so great for smoothies and how they can be used as an egg replacement, but today’s post will go into a few more benefits of flax, and why it might just be my favourite item in the pantry (and by pantry, I mean freezer).

What are they?

Flax seeds are the seeds that comes from the flax plant, which is actually an herb plant.

How healthy are they?

Interestingly, flax seed’s botanical name is “Linum Usitatissimum” which translates to ‘most useful’.  Here are just some of the amazing reasons why they’re ‘most useful’.

  1. Omega 3s:  Flax seeds are an incredibly high source of omega 3s.  As mentioned in my Hemp Hearts post, the typical North American diet is severely deficient in omega 3s, which is unfortunate because they are anti-inflammatory, and are important for good skin.  Often dry skin can just be a sign of not enough Omega 3s in the diet.
  2. Breast/Prostate Cancer: Flax seed is one of the highest sources of the phytoestrogens called lignans, which help balance out hormone levels.   A study done on mice showed flax seed in their diet had reduced formation, growth, or spread of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma.*
  3. PMS/Menstrual Cycle: Similar to the breast cancer, as flax seeds are a high source of phytoestrogens, they actually bind to estrogen receptors in the body.  Why is this good?  A lot of symptoms of PMS can be driven by estrogen dominance, or too much estrogen in the body.  By including phytoestrogens in your diet (flax), they bind to the estrogen receptors in your body, leaving less space for real estrogen to bind, and therefore your body eliminates it.  Also, as I mentioned, they’re a high source of omega 3s which are anti-inflammatory which helps with cramping/soreness.
  4. Digestion: There is nothing like flax seeds to get you regular again!  They are a mild laxative, and an excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.   Get this – in a study done where patients consumed muffins that had 50g of flax seed, they had bowel movements on average 30% more vs the control group!**
  5. Cholesterol Lowering: It’s thought that flax seeds can also have a cholesterol lowering effect by preventing re-absorption of cholesterol in the colon.  In the same study as above, “Plasma LDL cholesterol was also reduced by up to 8%, and total urinary lignan excretion was increased more than five fold.”**

Where can I buy them?

All the major grocery store carry flax seeds.  You can buy them whole or pre-ground.  I recommend buying them whole, and grinding them yourself.  If you do buy them pre-ground, make sure to keep them sealed properly and in the freezer.  I actually keep even the whole seeds in the freezer too.  My favourite brand is the Gold Top Organics or Bob’s Red Mill.  I try to buy organic, as there is not much of a difference in price.

Other ways to use them:

  • Sprinkle ground over top of a salad
  • Sprinkle on your morning granola
  • Replace eggs in some recipes with a flax egg
  • Make a flax tea to ease digestion – here’s a recipe
  • Use flaxseed oil in salad dressing (for another post)

*Source

**Source

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