These days it seems like there’s always a new superfood however flax seeds are the original superfood! They are also cheap and easy to find at your local grocery store.
Flax seeds are the richest dietary source of lignans – compounds that help regulate hormone activity in our body – and one of the best plant sources of essential omega-3 oil, alpha-linolenic acid. Additionally, when ground and mixed with liquid, the high soluble fiber content forms a thick viscous gel that slows the passage of food through the digestive tract and helps bulk up our stool. This can help with:
- A slower absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, leading to a slower and more steady release of insulin by the pancreas
- A more satisfying and longer lasting feeling of fullness after eating
- Increased diversity of the healthy bacteria that live in the intestines
- Increased binding of estrogenic and toxic compounds in the gut, preventing their absorption into the bloodstream
- Improves constipation
These effects may explain why several studies have shown that regularly eating flax seeds may prevent the risk of developing breast cancer and may actually slow the progression of existing breast and prostate cancers. As if that wasn’t enough, regularly eating flax seeds has also been found to help control cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.
But how do you eat flax seeds?
Firstly, they need to be ground before eating as their hard outer coat protects them from being broken down in the digestive tract. You can buy them pre-ground, sometimes called flax meal, or better yet, grind them yourself in a coffee grinder to ensure freshness. It’s best to store ground flax seeds in the fridge or freezer and to consume them within a few weeks to prevent the oils from oxidizing.
There are many ways you can use ground flax seeds: you can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and salads, or bake them into muffins or bread.
Here is one of our favorite ways of eating them – in a muffin that takes less than 5 minutes to make – it’s also free from added sugars and gluten!
Makes 1 muffin
- ¼ of a banana, sliced
- 1 Medjool date, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted, or light olive oil
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup ground flaxseeds
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of fresh or frozen blueberries
You can adjust the ingredients to make many different variations – the options are endless!
- Instead of blueberries, try raspberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries, chopped apple, or a teaspoon of orange or lemon zest.
- Instead of cinnamon try a smaller amount (¼ teaspoon) of ground ginger, cardamom, allspice, or a pinch of nutmeg or cloves, or make-up your own combination.
- Try adding a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, Brazil nuts (for added selenium) or other tree nuts, or a tablespoon of cocoa nibs or sugar-free dark chocolate chips.
- In a bowl, mash the banana and Medjool date into a thick paste.
- Whisk the egg, oil, and vanilla into the banana date paste until mostly smooth.
- Stir in the flax meal, baking powder, and cinnamon until well combined.
- Stir in the blueberries and any other optional ingredients.
- Transfer to a mug or a tea cup that is at least 2.5 inches in height, that’s the minimum required to prevent the muffin from overflowing.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds.
- Let cool for 1 minute before eating.
Author: Dr. Dan Lander, Naturopathic Doctor and Clinic Director