Flax seed derivatives, the oil specifically, are being put into everything from bread to cereal for added health benefits. Not only is flaxseed nutrient dense, but it contains compounds which may even promote healthy hearts. There are many ways to include flax oil in your food. Flaxseed comes as a ground meal you can add to recipes, as an ingredient in processed foods like cereal and bread, as flaxseed oil, or an oil capsule.
Components of Flaxseed
Flax seeds are comprised of fat, protein and fiber. Several vitamins and minerals are present at high levels in flaxseed including magnesium, manganese and thiamin. If you’re looking for worthwhile fatty acid supplements then this is one form to consider.
The heart health benefit of flaxseed is attributed mainly to its fatty acid profile. Flaxseed is an excellent supplement that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s believed that eating a proper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids helps ward off diseases of the heart. In the typical American diet, about ten grams of omega-6 fatty acids are consumed for every one of omega-3 fatty acids.
Experts believe the scale should be tipped more toward omega-3 fatty acids. But omega-6 fatty acids are more widespread in commonly consumed foods. One way to reach the proper ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fats for a truly beneficial cardiovascular disease diet is to eat foods like flaxseed in addition to fish, another source of omega-3s.
Heart Health Benefits of Flaxseed
While studies have not been done to demonstrate that eating flaxseed or flaxseed oil will reduce your risk of heart disease, several components of flax have been shown to benefit heart health.
Flaxseed contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, two food components known to be heart healthy. Don’t shy off from flax oil because the benefits are numerous: eating flax may reduce blood cholesterol levels, reduce blood glucose levels after eating a meal, and increase blood omega-3 fatty acid levels.
How to Add Flaxseed to Your Diet
You can buy flaxseed already ground as a flaxseed meal. This form of flaxseed is very convenient for adding to recipes or everyday foods. For a product that lasts longer (ground flaxseed turns rancid fairly quickly due to its fatty acid profile) look for whole flaxseeds and grind them as needed.
What is a good serving size of flaxseed? It depends on whether you are adding ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil. For ground flaxseed, start by adding about tablespoon per day to meals and recipes.
One tablespoon contains about 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of fat (about half of which is healthy omega-3 fatty acids) and many vitamins and minerals. Because of flax’s high fiber content, it’s best to gradually increase the amount of flax you eat each to avoid gastrointestinal problems like constipation.
For flaxseed oil, start with one half to one teaspoon of flaxseed oil. The amount of healthy fats in half a teaspoon of flaxseed oil has been shown to reduce heart disease risk in a recent population study.
One way to add flaxseed to your diet is to use flaxseed in recipes. Ground flaxseed can be added to most baked goods. Just substitute part of the flour with ground flaxseed. Start by using 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed for a full recipe of cookies, muffins, pancakes, waffles or bread. Also, search for tested recipes that already contain flax in larger amounts.
Another choice is to sprinkle ground flax in dishes you eat every day. Don’t be shy about putting flax onto or into everything you eat.
Your pharmacy will have flax in many forms. You will not gain the benefit of extra fiber and other nutrients by eating the oil alone, but you will get all the omega-3 fatty acids found in flax.
Tags: Health and Fitness