Meet Flax Meal!
One of the things I have discovered on my health and fitness journey is flax seed. I have to admit that I have not been consistent in taking my flax seed, especially the past few months because I didn’t want to add the extra calories. I know, I’m pitiful sometimes… A tablespoon of flax meal is only 30 calories, and I can work in an extra 30 calories, so I resolve to have some flax meal consistently every day. A tablespoon or two is all you need along with your 8 glasses of water to reap the benefits of consuming flax meal daily.
Benefits of Flax Meal
- Contains a high amount of ALA (Alpha linolenic acid), which is a plant-derived Omega 3 fatty acid that is found in salmon, but none of the mercury that is found in seafood. It also affects the immune system in a positive way as the ALA and lignans have been found to affect the immune cells that control the immune reaction.
- Lowers total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). You can help fight against high cholesterol by eating low fat foods, increasing exercise, limiting salt and sugar and eating flax daily.
- Reduces risk of heart attack by keeping platelets from becoming sticky and may also help lower blood triglycerides and blood pressure. Flax also fights heart disease by reducing clotting time and helps keep the arteries clean and pliable.
- Rich in Lignans, which is an antioxidant and has up to 800 times the amount in plant food. Lignans are also thought to have a roll in the prevention of breast cancer and colon cancer as well.
- Flax fights constipation as it is high in both soluble an insoluble fiber. One ounce of flax provides 32% of the USDA daily intake of fiber. Because its all-natural fiber helps absorb water, it softens the stool and allows it to pass through the colon quickly. You must be sure and drink your 8 glasses of water a day when taking fiber or it will actually increase the possibility of constipation, ouch! I recommend starting out with 1-2 TBSPS of flax meal with your 8 glasses of water a day. This has been an issue to a degree in my body at times, and of all the fiber sources that I have tried, I found flax to be the easiest, the most effective while also being most gentle!
- Good in assisting in weight management because flax expands five times in bulk when ingested. Taken before meals, you will eat less, and it helps stabilizes your blood sugar levels.
- Flax also has the proper balance of Omegas 3, 6 & 9. Our bodies can’t make the EFAS (essential fatty acids) found in Omega 3s & 6s. Flax contains the perfect balance of Omega 3 & Omega 6. Omega 3 & Omega 6 must be balanced to form cell membranes in every cell in your body, and they also play a vital role in brain tissue and they control the way that cholesterol works in your system.
- Flax seed is also said to normalize the menstrual cycle and manage menopause as well as lowering the risk of osteoporosis. It is also said that 2 teaspoons a day have an effect similar to soy isoflavones. In post-menopausal women, the lignans have been proposed as an alternative to hormone-replacement therapy to help stabilize hormone levels which lessens the symptoms of menopause*.
*I am post menopausal and was not using flax meal when I was on a regular cycle, so I have no idea whatsoever the effect it has on the menstrual cycle. As a post-menopausal woman I have an extreme proponent of bio-identical hormone therapy! I can’t say enough good things about the benefits of taking bio-identical hormones! I have taken them for over 3 years and not only feel the best I’ve every felt, but am in the best physical shape I have ever been in due to taking bio-identical hormone therapy. Our bodies work the best when the hormones are restored to working as was originally intended. That being said, I would not take flax meal with the idea it would stabilize my hormonal levels because as a patient, I think there is more to it than that. The soy-like effect is probably helpful I am sure, but I doubt it is a substitute for actual hormone therapy. Again, please check with your doctor about this, and preferably a doctor who specializes in bio-identical hormones.
How to use flax seed/meal
Slowly add flax seed to your daily diet. I buy flax meal, which is already ground. Some health enthusiasts prefer buying it in seed form and grinding it themselves. Flax is often included in small amounts in prepackaged goods, but I recommend that you add it yourself to your food. That way you know how much you are getting and don’t have to consume too many calories to get enough flax. Flax seed has a slight nutty taste and can be sprinkled on top of salads, cereal or better yet, mixed with Greek yogurt. Start with a TSPN or two and work your way up as needed. It does not have an offensive taste or texture and a TSPN can be easily camouflaged in your salads and cereal.
The flax meal recipe makers say that you can also substitute flax seed mixture for eggs in home baking such as muffins and pancakes, but that the products will have less volume and taste gummier. I have not personally tried this yet as being a foodie, I don’t want the quality of my food to be compromised. My preference would be to sprinkle it on my salad or have it with yogurt. If I tried the substitution, I would more than likely substitute just 1 egg rather than all the eggs in a recipe with flax seed. (1 TBSP milled fax seed + 3 TBSP water = 1 egg). To me it is best sprinkled on top of something or mixed in your oatmeal. If anyone does try substituting flax for eggs, please writing back and let us knowing how it works as it would be interesting to know how this culinary experiment turns out.
Where to buy flax seed/meal:
I buy mine at the grocery store: Kroger, Publix or Whole Foods. Shop around as the prices can vary for a 1-pound bag. I believe I bought my last bag at Whole Foods, which was surprisingly cheaper than Kroger and Publix. Here is the brand I use if you’d like to check it out further: http://www.bobsredmill.com/flaxseed-meal.html
Flax Seed Oil
Flax seed Oil can also help assist in healing the lining of inflamed intestines of people with IBD, Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Flax seed oil is not the same as flax seeds; it is a concentrated source of ALA, which has been questioned for its potential association with the increased risk of prostate cancer.
Warnings for Flax Seed Oil
I do not take flax seed oil, although I have in the past before my health regime was more focused and better informed. I don’t believe that is something I need, but check with your doctor before taking it. Check with your doctor anyway because there are side effects in mixing flax seed oil with medication. I strongly advise that you consult with your doctor or health care provider anyway as they would have an over all picture of your health when taking vitamin supplements. I am fortunate to have a doctor that I consult with in regards to the vitamins I take to stay healthy.
Here are some side effects/warnings regarding flax seed oil. Check with your doctor, as there are probably others!
- The extra Omega 3 can strengthen the effect of any blood thinners, including aspirin and Warfarin.
- It has been know to increase the fasting blood sugar levels and increase the need for blood sugar medication.
- Could result in high blood pressure.
Flax meal is beneficial to your daily diet. I do recommend a tablespoon or two of flax meal per day. I don’t expect miracles from it, but it is a small and easy investment to help keep both of your arteries clearer and your intestines clearer also. My Dad calls flax meal “little brooms”, and you know what? A little internal housecleaning never hurt any of us. (Smile)