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Food Focus: Flaxseed


The Background

Flaxseed is actually one of the first foods in history to ever be cultivated & domesticated.  Yes, this does mean 5,000 years ago people were using flaxseed for nutritional and medicinal purposes.  Four tablespoons (30 grams) of ground flaxseed contains the following:


Calories 150
Protein 4 gms
Fat ~12 gms(6 gms in plant omega-3 form)

*plant form of omega-3 must convert in our bodies to EPA and/or DHA

Carbohydrate ~8 gms
Dietary Fiber ~8 gms*Caution: consuming 5 or more T. per day may have laxative effect
Excellent source Magnesium, Manganese, Thiamin, Fiber (soluble + insoluble)
Good source Selenium
Other Lignans100-800 times more than other seeds


The Benefits & Research

As of right now, many of the health claims, such as lowering risk for heart disease, can’t be 100% conclusive in the research world. However, the compounds found in flaxseed do show promising results in numerous studies.  For example, the plant estrogen found in flaxseed (lignan) and flaxseed oil in animal studies have been shown to slow tumor growth, particularly in the colon, prostate and breast, as well as decreasing inflammation markers in the body.

Most Americans consume plenty of omega-6 fatty acids, but our omega-3 fatty acid intake is not quite up to par (10:1 to 30:1 ratio).  Having a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can actually reduce the amount of plant-omega 3 conversion (see above*).  Years ago, humans were following a 1:1 to 2:1 ratio…this isn’t quite a shocker since our food supply has greatly changed.  Bottom Line: 

2-4 T. of ground flaxseed and/or 1 T. flaxseed oil would be a great addition or substitution to your typical meal plan to increase your fiber and plant omega-3 fatty acid intake. 

Different Forms/Sources & Uses

Forms:  whole, ground, flaxseed meal (some oil is removed), flour and oil.  Whole flaxseed doesn’t have the ability to be broken down and utilized in our bodies—ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil is what you want to find. 

Products/Sources:  breads, cereals, crackers, energy bars, mixes, muffins, pastas, snack foods, breakfast foods such as waffles & pancakes, eggs  & other fortified foods.  Try our very own Super Smoothie recipe or adding ground flaxseed to your next bowl of oatmeal or homemade muffins. 


Keep ground flaxseed in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 30 days or up to 4 months in your freezer.  According to the Flax Council of Canada, some studies suggest ground flaxseed can be stored up to 300 days without losing its nutrition benefits…what to do??  Store in your freezer :-)

Resources:  American Institute of Cancer Research, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, & Flax Council of Canada

Check out Chef Karla’s Tips in Tiny Seed…Big Benefits for more information.

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