There's one thing I have completely enjoyed about using flax seeds in raw and vegan recipes and it is its versatility. This small, nutty seed has been used in my puddings, muffins, cookie, bread and cracker recipes, as many of my clients require grain and gluten-free foods. Not only do flax seeds enhance the flavor of a recipe, it also acts as a binding agent, much like an egg, when combined the water. There are two basic varieties of flax seeds — brown and yellow or golden. You can eat both, but you’ll find the golden flax seeds to be the most common in markets. Flaxseeds are also cultivate flax for its oil — known as both “flaxseed oil” and “linseed oil” — which is considered to be a healthy, edible oil.
For me, this nutritionally dense food is a staple in my diet and it I want to share why it may be a good idea to include into yours as well.
High in Fiber, Low in Carbs
One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract.
The mucilage can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which can increase nutrient absorption.
Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. You should aim to consume 30-40 g of high fiber foods daily. Personal Note: I am currently going through a system detox which helping undo some of the long term effects sugar has had on my body since I was a child. - flax seeds are included in this detox. I'll right more in a separate blog post.
Healthy Skin and Hair
If you want healthier skin, hair and nails then consider adding 2 tbsp of flax seeds to your smoothie or 1 tbsp of flax seed oil to your daily routine. The ALA fats in flax seeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fats as well as b-vitamins which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema. This also applies to eye health as flax can reduce dry eye syndrome. Flax seed oil is another great option since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. You can take 1-2 tbsp internally to hydrate skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used as a natural skin moisturizer. Did you know you can also make a natural and organic flax seed gel to use on your hair? Recipe Here
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flaxseeds and walnuts may improve obesity and support weight loss. Since flax is full of healthy fats and fiber, it will help you feel satisfied longer so you will eat fewer calories overall which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation.
This is important for weight loss in that an inflamed body will tend to hold on to excess weight. Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads, or smoothies as part of your weight loss plan.
The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds into your diet can naturally reduce lesterol levels.
The soluble fiber content of flax seeds trap fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so that it unable to be absorbed. Soluble fiber also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder.
The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and lowering cholesterol overall.
Flaxseeds are Gluten-Free
Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains which are inflammatory where flax is anti-inflammatory. So, flax seeds are great for those who have Celiac disease or have a gluten-sensitivity. They may also be a good alternative to omega-3 fats in fish for people with a seafood allergy. Another great aspect of flax being gluten-free is that it can be used as a grain-free option in cooking. I will often use it along with coconut flour in baking at home.
Flaxseeds are High in Antioxidants
Lignans)Amongst its other incredible nutrition facts, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that provide us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health.
Polyphenols support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body, one of the BIGGEST invaders in my body. Lignans are also known for their anti-viral and antibacterial properties, therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus.
Maybe the biggest flax seed benefits come from it’s ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help protect the lining of the digestive tract and maintain GI health. It has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation. You can also take 1-3 tbsp of flax seed oil with 8 oz of carrot juice (or simply water) to help naturally relieve constipation.
Flax Seeds for Cancer
Flax seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. A study published in the Clinical Cancer Research discovered that consuming flax seeds may decrease the risk of breast cancer. The three lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol which naturally balance hormones which may be the reason flax seeds reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
So, with that said, it's not wonder why flax seeds can aid you reaching optimal health if consumed regularly.
Here's a recipe for Red Onion & Flax Seed Crackers. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Note: This recipe requires the use a dehydrating unit. However, if you do not own a food dehydrator and would like to use the oven method, please follow instructions as follows:
Regina Thomas Dillard is the author of "FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love", and founder of Inner + Sanctum Wellness, a business dedicated to assist others as they embark on their holistic journey. All products are handmade and sourced from reputable organic and natural ingredients purveyors.