Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Meet Whole Foods: Flax Seeds!

Introducing: Flax Seed!

What are Flax Seeds?
There are two main varieties of flax seeds - brown and golden. The two types are essentially equivalent in nutrients. Flax seeds come from the flax plant, which has been grown since ancient times. Flax seeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a shiny, hard outer shell. They have an earthly flavor, that is slightly nutty.

How do I use them?
Ground Flax Seed
Flax seeds can be ground or sprouted. While they can be consumed whole, it is not recommended, as the body does not absorb as many nutrients by eating them that way. It is better to store flax seeds whole, as they can go rancid quicker when ground. Flax seed are easy to grind in a blender. Some grain mills do not recommend grinding flax in them due to the high fat content of them, which can cause problems with the machine. I have tried both brown and golden flax in my cooking and prefer the flavor of the golden. I like to grind up a small quantity of flax seed and keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use it. I add flax seed to bread, smoothies, muffins, granola, etc. I have also used it as an egg substitute in baked goods.  For one egg, substitute 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 2 Tbsp. water. You can also buy flax seed oil and use it to make salad dressings. Flax oil is not good to cook with, however, because it burns easily.

Where can I buy them?
Flax seeds can be found in most health food stores and are becoming more widely available in regular grocery stores as well. I buy mine at WinCo and they sell both kinds of flax seed as well as ground flax seed.

How healthy are they?
Flax seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary to include in a healthy diet. Omega-3 fats are important for reducing inflammation in conditions such as asthma, some types of arthritis, migraine headaches and osteoporosis. They also help protect bone health and prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Flax seeds are rich in fiber which is important in our bodies to help lower cholesterol level. Flax seeds are a good source of magnesium which helps keep the airways relaxed and open, reducing the severity of asthma. There are so many more benefits to flax seeds - they are a wonderful whole food!

Got a recipe? 
I have loved learning about flax seeds and I hope you did also! This week I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes using this wonderful whole food.  If you have a favorite flax seed recipe, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

Recipes With Flax Seed:
Whole Wheat Bread with Flax Seed
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Flax Seed
5 Grain Waffles with Flax Seed
Granola Bars with Flax Seed

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