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F is for Flax

field of flax photo by recursion_see_recursion

I eat ground flax pretty much everyday. Summer, winter, spring and fall. It is easy to sprinkle a tablespoon or two on cereal, hot or cold. The flavor is pleasantly nutty and it provides good nutritional benefit to start the day right. While there are many health benefits that I appreciate, I eat flax for one very important reason. Regularity. There, I said it. Flax does an awesome job of combating constipation.

It takes an arsenal of tactics to keep me going. Including pre and probiotics, lots of fiber and fluid, and regular exercise. Flax is a tasty part of the regimen.

If you are new to ground flax, I must caution you though, start slow. Start with just a teaspoon and increase the amount slowly. More is not better to start.

whole flax seed photo by AlishaV

The whole seeds are difficult to digest and may go right through you. The healthful fats are very perishable and spoil quickly. So grind small amounts in a coffee grinder and store in the fridge or freezer. And the color does not matter. Brown or golden seeds offer the same nutritional benefit.

Ground flax seeds are often used as an egg substitute in bakery goods. The common recommendation is to put 1 tablespoon in a small dish and add 3 tablespoons of hot water. Stir until the mixture thickens, when the soluble fiber has soaked up the water.

whole and ground, brown and golden flax seeds photo by AlishaV

I find this works sometimes and sometimes it is too “wet”. When I mix 3 tablespoons ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water, I get a very very thick paste. This thick mixture works really well in my usual waffle recipe. I need to vigorously whisk this paste into the other wet ingredients to mix it well. The finished waffles are super crispy on the outside and perfectly moist inside. They do stick to the waffle maker more, so be sure to oil it well, every time.

Nutritionally, flax is almost 30% fiber, a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol, and insoluble fiber combats constipation. Flax seed is about 40% fat, over half is the very important omega3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Flax is by far the richest source of lignan, a specific type of antioxidant.

Research is underway. Flax fiber, ALA, and lignan may work together to reduce or treat numerous health problems. These include inflammation, type 2 diabetes, heart and vascular disease, cancers (particularly breast and colon), the immune disorders of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus, and even hot flashes.

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