A little sprinkle here and a little sprinkle there. Incorporating ground flaxseed into your daily diet has a ton of health benefits. There is flaxseed, ground flaxseed, and flaxseed oil – which one should you choose?
First, let’s get the facts on flax. Why should you be incorporating flax into your diet? Why is flax healthy for you?
F is for Fiber. It’s amazing how much fiber a little flaxseed contains. Just two tablespoons of flaxseed meal delivers 4 grams of fiber, as much fiber as 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal! Studies suggest that when flaxseed meal is added to the diet, harmful LDL cholesterol drops, while the good HDL cholesterol stays put. Regularity improves, also.
L is for Lignans. Here’s where the flaxseed story gets major points. Flaxseed contains high levels of natural antioxidants called lignans. Many plant foods have some lignans, but flaxseed has at least 7 times more than any other. To get the lignans that are in just two tablespoons of flaxseed meal, you’d need to eat about 30 cups of fresh broccoli.
A is for Alpha-linolenic Acid. Modern siets—even healthy ones—are routinely deficient in omega-3s. Flaxseed is a mega-source for the plant version of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid. The oil in the flaxseed is about 50% alpha-linolenic acid. Canola and walnut oils, the next highest sources, have about 10%. But most foods have far less. One serving of flaxseed meal contains 1800 milligrams of omega-3.
X is for eXcellent choice. Should you consider adding flaxseed meal to your diet? Absolutely!!
(source: Bob’s Red Mill)
(Fruit Pizza with Oatmeal Flax Crust via the Lean Green Bean)
The first face-off: Whole Flaxseed vs. Ground Flaxseed
It’s recommended to use ground flaxseed because the whole flaxseed will just pass right through the body undigested skimping you of all the nutritional benefits of the flaxseed. Consuming ground flaxseed digests in the body and absorbs the omega-3s as well as lignans (explained above).
If you already have whole flaxseeds, simply grind them up in a coffee grinder or a strong food processor to make ground flaxseed. You can also garnish baked goods with the whole flaxseeds.
Sprinkle ground flaxseed on cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, and even salads. It has a slight nutty flavor. You can even use it as part of a breadcrumb for chicken, fish, etc.
(Oatmeal Flax Blueberry Muffins via Pinch of Yum)
The second face-off: Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically alpha-linolenic acid – ALA), which makes it true that flaxseed oil contains more ALA than flaxseeds, due to it being in a concentrated form.
Flaxseeds are in its natural form and contain a plethora of other nutrients that flaxseed oil miss out on due to the fact that flaxseed oil is just the oil extracted from the seeds.
The flaxseed is rich in dietary fiber; minerals such as manganese, copper, and magnesium; and vitamins such as folate, and vitamin B6.
Dietitian Tip: Do not replace one for the other. Incorporate both into your healthy diet.