One of the most popular superfoods to date is the Flaxseed. It comes from the flax plant and wasn't originally used as food in the past. It was probably first cultivated in Egypt. When it came to America it was originally used to make linen clothing. It wasn’t until the popularity of cotton began to rise that the flaxseeds slowly started entering our diets. Currently, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are enjoyed by the masses of all ages for it is delicious and highly nutritious. Flaxseed are often added in granola bars, cereals, and bread. It has an irresistible and unique nutty taste. It is one of few foods that are tasty and nutritious; this is the main reason why more and more people are beginning to add a lot of flaxseed to their diet. To understand just how nutritious flax seeds are let's take a look at its nutrition facts. The usual serving size of flax seeds is two tablespoons or 14 grams. With this amount of flaxseed you get 3 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, and 6 grams of fat which covers 6%, 1.3%, and 9.2% of your daily requirement respectively. It is high in fiber, it contains 4 grams which has a Daily Value of 16%. Aside from this, it contains a lot of minerals like phosphorus, 100 milligrams, magnesium, 60 milligrams, and potassium, 120 milligrams. This food is a moderate-calorie food because a single serving of it contains only 80 calories. For those who are following a keto diet, flaxseeds should be your new friend. Most of its calories comes from fat and its carbohydrates are mostly from dietary fibers which you won’t be able to absorb.
Flaxseeds has a lot of ‘good’ fats
One of the well loved ‘good’ fats to date is the Omega-3 fatty acid. The usual serving size of flaxseeds, 14 grams, contain around 3 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based version of omega-3 fatty acid. Do not confuse Alpha-linolenic acid with alpha-lipoic acid, even though the two share the same abbreviation, ALA; they are vastly different from each other. Most people take in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid, to keep their heart healthy. They are right to do so as several studies have proven their cardioprotective properties. They have antioxidant properties which prevent heart-damaging oxidative stress. Aside from this, omega-3 fatty acids can maintain our blood vessels’ ability to dilate properly; essentially, they can reverse atherosclerosis. In other words, omega-3 fatty acids can maintain proper blood vessel functioning which ultimately lowers the risk of heart disease.
Unknown to most, Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA is also being tested to treat other conditions aside from heart disease. In one study involving 87 multiple-sclerosis patients, researchers tested ALA’s ability to suppress the disease progression. Their results showed that high levels of ALA lowered the patient’s chance of developing new lesions. In another study involving 168 patients, 86% of the respondents reported a reduction in the severity, duration and frequency of their migraine attacks, 22% of the respondents reported that they were free of migraine, and 90% experienced a reduction in feelings of nausea and vomiting after high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids were included in their diet for 6 months.
Flax Seeds Are Rich in Dietary Fiber
The average human, male or female, needs at least 25 to 38 grams of fiber. A tablespoon of flax seeds contains 3 grams of dietary fiber. This covers around 8 to 12% of our daily need. Several studies showed that insoluble fibers have the ability to slow down our intestine’s ability to absorb sugar. The well received explanation as to why insoluble fibers can do this is that these dietary fibers would transform into a gel-like substance when it gets into the stomach which slows food movement through the gastrointestinal tract. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that dietary fibers can help lower your risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Coronary Artery Disease, lower blood pressure on those who are hypertensive, and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. On top of this, dietary fibers can help you lose weight. Since it slows down the emptying of the gastrointestinal tract, the body would feel full for a longer duration. This would then aid you in maintaining a calorie deficit which could lead to weight loss.
Flax Seeds Are a Rich Source of Lignans
Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen present in most plants and are needed in the formation of their cell wall. Studies have shown that lignans can have positive effects on cancer, heart disease, and cholesterol. The Flaxseed is considered to be the food with the highest amount of lignans. This food item contains 77 to 209 milligrams per tablespoon of secoisolariciresinol diglycoside which is around 800 times more than most plant-based foods.
Cancer is a disease that attacks at the cellular level. A study that was published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” revealed that lignans in general may help prevent cancer. The researchers explained that this phytoestrogen can help prevent pre-cancerous cellular changes. On top of this, it can slow down the spread of cancer cells. In another study published in the American Cancer Society, researchers reported that lignans have the potential to reduce growth of cancer cells in hormone- or endocrine-related cancers like prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. Lignans have also been associated with Heart Disease prevention. In 2006, Linus Pauling of the Institute of Oregon State University published his study regarding lignan’s cardioprotective properties in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this research journal, Linus Pauling and his associates found that increased consumption of phytochemicals, such as those in flaxseeds and other whole grains and vegetables, lowered the risk of cardiovascular diseases through its antioxidant effects. However, they mentioned one flaw in their study. They indicated that it was unclear whether it was the lignans that lowered the risk of cardiovascular diseases or the mere act of consuming whole grains, like flaxseeds, and vegetables that caused it. Lowering of bad cholesterol or the Low Density Lipoprotein has also been indicated as another health benefit of lignan in other studies. A study involving 55 patients over an 8-week period revealed this property of lignan. The study was quite recent as it was published last 2008 through the British Journal of Nutrition this means that more research studies on the topic is needed before they could make a solid claim.
Flaxseed protein is rich in the amino acids arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid
Our organs are made up of a group of cells called tissues. These individual cells are made up of proteins and they cannot function without proteins. Thus, we could say that life is impossible without proteins and that we need them in our diet. Proteins are complex molecules made up of numerous amino acids. When we consume proteins, they are broken down into amino acids and which are later re-assembled into the various proteins of the body. Our body can generate several amino acids through this process and they are called ‘Nonessential Amino Acids’. Even though this is so, there are other amino acids that our body cannot produce and so we need to get them from our diet. These amino acids are called ‘Essential Amino Acids’. In general, amino acids are involved in maintaining healthy cells, the production of neurotransmitters, the production of hormones, energy generation, cell repair, maintaining muscle tone and tissue strength, and the creation and growth of new cells, connective tissue, and more.
Flaxseeds contain 3234 milligrams of arginine, 3437 milligrams of aspartic acid, and 6785 milligrams of glutamic acid. Although these are non-essential amino acids; however, they carry with them some potential health benefits.
Arginine, specifically L-arginine, is an amino acid that is involved in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is then needed for proper blood vessel functioning as they help the cells in them relax. When the blood vessels are functioning properly, the body can regulate its blood pressure properly as well. With that logic, researchers theorized that L-arginine may help patients with hypertension. Several studies have been conducted regarding this theory and in 2016, a review of these studies have been conducted. Out of all the studies, 7 studies indicated that L-arginine supplementation through oral intake significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 5.4 mm/Hg as well as decreased diastolic blood pressure by 3.1 mm/Hg. Still on the topic of Nitric Oxide, this molecule apparently plays an important role in our cells’ insulin sensitivity. Researchers also theorized that increasing Nitric Oxide by increasing L-arginine intake could improve our cells’ sensitivity to insulin. Although the results are not conclusive enough, there are some studies that showed that L-arginine can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in diabetic patients. Other studies claimed that taking in L-arginine over a long period of time can lower the risk of diabetes in those who are more likely to get it. One study in particular took 144 blood-sugar-impaired patients and gave them 6.4 grams of L-arginine everyday for a year and a half. Results of this research showed that those who took the 6.4 grams of L-arginine were at lower risk of acquiring diabetes throughout the succeeding 90 months compared to those who did not.
Aspartic acid plays a minor role in the human body. They are involved in a lot of processes but they are particularly important in hormone production and release, and normal nervous system function.
Glutamic acid is not only an amino acid but it is also a notable and common excitatory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. They are present in the thalamus, brain stem, pons, basal ganglia, and spinal cord. Aside from this, it is needed in the synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA which is a neurotransmitter with an antagonistic effect to glutamic acid. In other words, if glutamic acid increases the activity of the central nervous system; GABA does the opposite and decreases it. Glutamic acid is also needed in the synthesis of glutathione which is an essential compound that fights free radicals, helps boost the immune system, and keep cells healthy. The prostate gland may need some glutamic acid for proper functioning as prostate fluid contains a huge amount of it. The prostate gland enlarges with age, health professionals call this condition ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia. This may lead to prostatic diseases if left without treatment. Most doctors would advise glutamic acid supplements to those whose prostate glands would enlarge at an alarming rate. In summary, Glutamic acid is important to the central nervous system, the immune system, and the male’s reproductive system.
Adding Flaxseed to your Diet
Adding flaxseed to your diet is easy as it is very versatile. You may use flaxseed oil as it provides the same health benefits as whole grain flax seeds. There are many ways to add them into your diet, for instance you could flavor your meat with flaxseeds, add flaxseeds to smoothies, sprinkle them on pastries, and use flaxseed oil as salad dressing.
Here are a number of recipes that you should try out:
Flaxseed Breakfast Bowl
This breakfast bowl is a great way to start your day to pack on some dietary fibers. You will need...
- a tablespoon of ground flax seeds,
- two tablespoons of chia seeds,
- two tablespoons of hemp seeds,
- two tablespoons of sunflower seeds,
- half a cup of berries or chopped apples,
- and two cups of milk preferably almond milk.
Preparing this recipe is easy, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and leave it for around 2 to 3 minutes. Letting it sit before serving would ensure that the flavors would seep out of the ingredients and into the milk.
Flourless Peanut Butter Flaxseed Cookies
Looking for a tasty and sweet snack? Here’s some cookies that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates; free from refined sugars and refined flour. You will need the following ingredients;
- two tablespoons of ground flaxseed,
- three-fourths of a cup of peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice,
- half a cup and a tablespoon of brown rice protein powder,
- one-fourth of a cup of coconut sugar or any other non-refined sugars,
- one egg,
- two tablespoons of vanilla extract,
- and, two tablespoons of the milk of your choice.
Like any other cookie, you would have to prepare the dough and bake this. Preheat your oven beforehand to 180 to 350 degrees Celsius. Mix together the peanut butter and sugar. Then, add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing until the texture of the mixture begins to smooth out. To give structure to the mixture add the protein powder and mix well. Flow this up by adding the flaxseeds for flavor. Next, take some baking sheets and cover it with baking paper. Use a tablespoon-measuring-spoon and scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and make them into balls. Place these balls on your baking sheets and flatten them out. Then, like any other cookie, bake the raw cookie dough for 10 to 12 minutes. You would know that they are cooked properly when you see its edges turn lightly golden. You can cook them for longer to make them crunchy but be careful not to burn them. After they are cooked, take them out quickly and allow to cool before serving or storing.
Spicy Nutty Schnitzel
If you’re looking for a proper meal, then look no further, here’s a spicy and nutty schnitzel recipe that would surely spice up your day. Ingredients needed:
- two organic chicken thighs or a single chicken breast
- One-fourth of a cup of flaxseed
- one teaspoon of paprika, ground ginger, and ground cumin, but you can experiment on other spicy combinations
- A pinch of chilli
- And two to three tablespoons of olive oil
- This is optional but you can serve this meal with lemon cheeks and red fruit or raspberry jam
To prepare this dish begin cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces, you can cut out the extra fat if you want. Mix thoroughly the spices and flaxseeds into a bowl. Add the chicken pieces into this bowl and mix them thoroughly until each piece is covered completely with the flaxseeds and spices. If you want the chicken to soak up some of the spice, leave it aside for a minimum of 15 minutes. Then, cook them up in a frying pan with some olive oil. After they are cooked, serve them on a platter with some lemon cheeks and red fruit or raspberry jam.