Flaxseed, or linseed as it’s also commonly known as, has gained popularity as a health food and with good reason! It has actually been around for thousands of years and eaten for its health benefits but it’s grown in popularity and an ingredient I recommend on Atkins. What’s so good about flaxseed?
- It’s packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. Omegas 3s are needed in the diet as the typical Brit consumes a higher percentage of Omega 6 fatty acids. Omegas 3’s have been named ‘fat burning fats’ as they can increase the metabolic rate. Also increasing these fatty acids can give you glowing skin, hair and stronger nails.
- It has a high concentration of Lignans. These are a phytoestrogen that’s been shown to be anti-carcinogenic. Two studies in particular stand out, one with prostate cancer patients and the other with breast cancer patients. Both studies showed a slowing of tumour growth after consuming flaxseeds in their diet. Lignans are powerful antioxidants that can reduce oxidative stress caused by pollution, stress and other factors – even exercise!
- It’s full of fibre, both soluable and insoluable. Soluable fibre helps to keep you feeling fuller so you may consume fewer calories if you add a couple of tablespoons of flaxseeds to your diet. Soluable fibre can also stabilise blood sugar levels so you may stop craving sweets! Insoluable fibre passes through the body quickly, effectively ‘sweeping’ the gut. This has many benefits including prevention of constipation, a healthier gut and even can reduce bad LDL cholesterol.
- It’s high in complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. This makes it a great choice for Vegetarians and non-Vegetarians alike as it’s hard to find plant foods that are complete proteins.
So how can you incorporate flaxseed into your diet?
You can buy flaxseed in either whole, ground or as an oil.
If you buy whole flaxseeds then make sure you grind them before eating or they will pretty much pass through your body undigested. You can buy it ready-ground or as ‘flaxmeal’ which basically means it’s ready ground. Add ground flaxseeds to shakes, smoothies, soups, sprinkled over salad or full fat Greek yogurt, from phase 2.
Flaxseed oil is a good option if you want to add to protein shakes or as a dressing for salad or poultry. You can even sprinkle over steamed veggies as a side dish.
Here are a couple of my favourite recipes that incorporate flaxseeds!
Muffin in a Minute (add unsweetened cocoa powder if you're past phase 1)
Lastly, ensure you store your flaxseed -whether oil or whole – in the fridge so it retains its potency!
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