What's the Scoop on Flaxseed?
Flaxseed is turning up everywhere in foods these days, from chips and crackers to oatmeal and waffles. So, what's all the fuss about? Well, flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids ("good" fats), fiber (aids in digestion) and lignans, which have antioxidant qualities.
There are two basic forms of flaxseed. You can buy it ground or whole. Ground flaxseed tends to be a better option because whole flaxseed can pass through the body undigested. When that happens, your body misses out on all of the nutrient benefits. You can buy whole flax seed and grind it yourself in a food processor, coffee grinder or bullet. Ground flaxseed can be stored in an airtight container for several months and keeps best in the freezer. Whole seeds can be kept even longer if refrigerated.
You can also purchase flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil contains the omega-3s and lignans, but no fiber. Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been used to help reduce total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels and, as a result, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Adequate daily intake of flaxseed is 1.1 - 1.6 grams, or about one tablespoon of ground flaxseed.
So, what can you eat with ground flaxseed? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, or salad.
- Mix it in mayonnaise or mustard when making a sandwich.
- Add it to any baked good (muffins, pancakes, bread, etc.)