No way you are going to study about clean eating and not hear about flaxseeds, particularly if you are educating yourself on improving your body's ability to detoxify. Flaxseeds are one of our superfoods; a true earth medicine. They are anti-inflammatory, full of omega-3 fatty acids, and they have an incredible superpower that is especially beneficial to women - they can reduce our overall exposure to toxic estrogen. They also help with our digestion and elimination packing in the fiber, improve our cardiovascular health, cholesterol, reduce our risk for cancer, and improve our blood sugar balance - even our skin is more clear when eating flaxseeds. No joke, flaxseeds are a superfood.
Flaxseeds are sometimes called linseeds. They are small, golden-brown seeds which can be eaten whole in salads or ground into powder and sprinkled into your smoothies, cereals, or salads. Flaxseeds are a great source of dietary fiber and offer important minerals for detoxification such as manganese, thiamine, and magnesium. They are also one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but why they really earn their superfood status - their lignans.
Lignans convert to enterolactones in a healthy gut and as phytoestrogens they will fill the estrogen receptors that would otherwise be vulnerable to environmental estrogens which can be toxic. This reduces your overall exposure to estrogen which can minimize breast tenderness, heavy bleeding, uterine fibroids, PMS, and even reduce the incidence of some breast cancers, as well as ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancers.
Lignans are not only considered phytoestrogens, but they are also flavonoids. They chase our inflammation, so those with diabetes, obesity, or any chronic disease will benefit from their ability to reduce the attack on our body. They are also antiviral and antibacterial. An older study found that flaxseeds induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention. Here is more support for flaxseeds ability to reduce elevated blood pressures.
Their impact on digestion is really impressive. Its ability to reduce inflammation protects the lining of our gastrointestinal tract. Those with Crohn's disease and other digestive issues have demonstrated improvement with including flaxseed in their diets. Our gut bacterial is critical to optimal gut health, and flaxseed can help feed our friendly bacteria. Ultimately it helps eliminate the more pathologic bacterias from our gut as well, because its fiber content keeps things moving through more readily. Flax almost creates a gel-like substance, so it really can help eliminate constipation.
Maybe I haven't really impressed you yet... what if I said that flaxseeds have been linked to weight loss, especially abdominal fat reduction? A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flaxseeds and walnuts may improve obesity and support weight loss. The fats in flaxseeds will help you feel satiated as well, so you feel full longer. Improved hormone health will also contribute to more optimal weight. An inflamed will hold onto excess weight and create more constipation and bloating, which challenges your gut health.
Adding Flaxseeds to Your Diet
Flaxseeds are available at essentially all health foods stores or can be ordered online. They are likely to be in a glass jar in the refrigerator. An easy way to include these in your diet is to grind about a half cup each week in a coffee grinder and store the powder in a separate jar in the refrigerator so you can sprinkle about two tablespoons on your food each day. Even better though is if you ground them just prior to consumption. Try a tablespoon in your yogurt with some raw honey or add it to your sprouted granola.
Sprouted flaxseed are even better and while you can eat the whole seed, they are more often going to just pass through you and you'll miss out on an incredible opportunity had you consumed them in a powdered form. Sprouting flaxseeds eliminates the phytic acid, improving their mineral absorption. Simply soak your flaxseeds for at least ten minutes in warm water or two hours in cooler water. You can even soak them overnight, but you'll see more of a gel substance so save the water and the seeds in this case, and pour this into your various recipes.
Flaxseed oil is yet another option for including flax in your diet, but linseed oil is not. The oil can be used in many of your baking recipes as well, particularly those you are trying to avoid gluten. Flax absorbs liquid so it can help bind ingredients. Try using it with coconut flour to add more moisture and healthy fats. If you use the ground flaxseed in your recipes assure you have plenty of water or alternative milk because of how much the flaxseeds really do absorb liquid.
Flaxseeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available on the earth. They offer only 110 calories in a serving at two tablespoons, which combines six grams of carbohydrates, four grams of protein, 8.5 grams of healthy fats, six grams of fiber, 0.6 mg of manganese, 0.4 mg of vitamin B1, 80 mg of magnesium, 132 mg of phosphorus, 0.2 mg of copper, and 5 mg of selenium. They also contain vitamin B6, folate, iron, potassium, and zinc.
How might they compare to Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are also high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, but flaxseeds do offer more alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than chia seeds. One ounce of flaxseeds contains about 6K mg of ALA compared to about 4.9K from chia seeds. Chia seeds do have more fiber than flaxseeds, with chia having 11 grams of fiber per ounce compared to 8 grams of fiber in an ounce of flax. Both form a gel during digestion which helps with blood sugar regulation, bowel movements, and lowering cholesterol. Only flaxseeds contain high levels of lignans. Chia seeds have more calcium than flax so adding them to your vegan or plant-based diet may be especially helpful. Flaxseeds offer slightly more protein than chia seeds. Chia seeds can really be eaten in about any form, but flaxseeds really should be sprouted and ground. They are also more susceptible to going rancid over time.
Flaxseeds are Earth Medicine
I would love if you would share in the comments some of your more favorite flaxseed recipes and attach a picture of your own foods!