Flax Seeds: Cheap Protein and Essential Fatty Acids for a Song

While flax seeds have been around for some time now (indeed Charlemagne was touting their health benefits during his time), modern society is finally starting to get a grip on things like the health benefits of flax seeds, how to eat them and what exactly can be prepared with these little nutritional wonders. Hereís a breakdown of the basics.

FLAX SEED BENEFITS

The health benefits of flax seeds are numerous. First of all, flax seeds are an unusually significant source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Additional studies have shown that they have the potential to stunt the growth of tumors in the prostate, and to lower cholesterol levels in men. As someone who keeps tabs on the grocery monies and is always on the lookout for cheap food items, I will also point out that one of the main flax seed benefits is price.

I typically pay anywhere from two to three and a half dollars per pound for organic flax seeds. Far less than what walnuts cost per pound, and I receive a comparable nutritional benefit. Also, the amount of flax seeds required each day is quite low. This makes the investment last longer, so a jar of them in the freezer will last an extremely long time. Donít get me wrong. I still enjoy walnut pieces in my oatmeal or paired with cranberries in a spinach salad. But I donít have to rely on them exclusively, which is a huge money saver.

HOW TO EAT FLAX SEEDS

Flax seed meal is what really gets the nutritional job done.

This means you need to grind flax seeds before consuming or cooking with them. The grinding process is what releases all of the good stuff (technical term) your body needs. But thereís one hitch. The ground flax seed meal wonít maintain its high nutritional value for very long after grinding, so itís important that you make a point to use your ground flax seed meal relatively quickly. Sure, you can keep some of it pre-ground in a container in your fridge for a bit. But letting it hang around for months isnít the best idea.

Also, flax seed meal gets rancid fast at room temperature. This means that not only do you want to refrigerate it after grinding, but you really want to purchase the seeds whole rather than buying pre-ground flax seed meal thatís been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long.

How to use flax seed in your food daily is where you need to exercise a bit of creativity.

Most people find it easiest to find discreet ways to add ground flax seeds to foods they are already consuming such as oatmeal, muffins, pancake batter and more. Simply sprinkle a tablespoon or so of the flax seed meal into your baked-good batter, on top of your cereal or into your breakfast smoothie for nutrition on the fly.

FLAX SEED RECIPES

Create a flax egg.

Whipping up a flax egg is a popular choice for those going vegan, and conventional bakers in temporary need of an egg substitute. You canít scramble it or fry it up in an omelet mind you, but you can bake with it and have exceptional egg-free results. The ground flax seed to water ratio is available online, and a smorgasbord of eggless recipes to experiment with is available in Colleen Patrick-Goudreauís book, The Joy of Vegan Baking.

Try some ground flax seed in your breakfast smoothie.

Putting ground flax seed in your breakfast smoothie is a simple and convenient way to add fiber and fatty acids to your morning regimen. You can try it with berry-based smoothies, or something heartier like this peanut butter and banana smoothie with soy milk. The trick is to grind the flax seeds first, and then add the other solid ingredients and liquid. This way, youíll have access to all of the flax seed benefits possible.

Search out some major resources for flax seed recipes.

While there are a number of flax seed recipes online, itís fair to say that some web sites have a higher concentration of flax seed recipes than others. Healthyflax.com is one such flax recipe source. Between the Omega-3s and the flexibility of flax seeds in the carb-cutting arena, finding a reason to explore and experiment with them isnít hard. You just need to see whatís out there, and what appeals to you.

Photo Credits: Flax Seeds photo by Healthaliciousness, Rustic Loaf image by Crystl and Baked Treat picture by Norwichnuts.

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