Are you familiar with flaxseed? These little seeds look like brown sesame seeds, but are a real nutrition powerhouse high in omega-3s, lignans, and fibre.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our health and must come from the foods we eat. Many quality studies have shown that a diet high in omega-3s helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, helps control certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to helping protect us against certain types of cancer.
Lignans are phytoestrogens, in other words plant-based estrogens. Some studies have shown that lignans could reduce the risk of hormone-dependent cancers (e.g. breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer).
Flaxseed is an excellent source of dietary fibre, which is useful in preventing or relieving constipation, and in some people, even lowering cholesterol levels.
It’s easy to add flaxseed to our diet, especially since a single tablespoon per day is enough to get its health benefits. With their delicate nutty flavour, they can be added to cereal, yogurt, and smoothies. They can also be used in muffin, cookie and pancake recipes.
However, be aware that whole flax seeds have a hard outer shell that is very difficult to digest. As a result, they are usually eliminated through our stool, unchanged. In order to get the many benefits of flaxseed, it therefore has to be ground prior to consumption.
You can buy the seeds already ground from the grocery store, or grind them yourself (with a coffee grinder, for example). As with other seeds and nuts, they should be kept in the freezer, as they tend to quickly go rancid at room temperature.