Flax Seed: Health Benefits + Recipes
By Alicia McMinn
Flax seed is a wonderful seed that you should be incorporating into your daily life. This simple addition could improve not only the health of your skin and hair, it can also aid in lowering cholesterol, improve digestive health, and studies have even shown evidence that regular consumption can even reduce the risk of certain cancers. That’s pretty incredible for such a little seed.
These little guys can be eaten whole as a crunchy topping for just about anything you’d like to make crunchier, but they really shine in ground form. When flax is ground into a flour or meal our bodies are best able to absorb all the goodness these seeds have to offer. Before I get into all the goodness contained in these seeds it should also be noted that the great health benefits of flax meal can benefit your four-legged family as well. Adding flax meal to your dogs food can help them maintain a shiny coat and good digestive health. Before you supplement flax meal into your pets food make sure to consult your veterinarian to make sure it will be appropriate for their nutritional needs.
Now, back to all the goodness contained in this wonderful seed. Flax seed is a great source of protein, fiber, and minerals. In one ounce (around 3 tablespoons) of flax, you get 6 grams of protein, and a whopping 8 grams of fiber, as well as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B1 and B6, potassium, iron, copper and zinc.
Flax seeds are also great source of plant lignans. Lignans are the building blocks of plant cell walls. They contain phytoestrogens that help regulate the body’s estrogen production. When we consume plant lignans the body converts them to enterolactone, which causes weak estrogenic activity when they are present in the bloodstream. Reports have shown that high levels of enterolactone in our blood help to reduce risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Studies have also shown that high levels of lignans can support healthy weight and glucose metabolism by reducing the risk of insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
I hope you are beginning to see why these seeds should be a staple in your daily routine. If so, I am now going to get into some great ways to enjoy these wonderful seeds. First, you have a few types to choose from, flax comes in brown and golden varieties. Some recipes may call for one specific type but they can typically be used interchangeably. Flax meal is also a great addition to baked goods. It can be a great way to sneak in some more nutrients and fiber. When adding flax meal to a baked recipe for every 1 cup regular flour, substitute ¼ cup seed flour. Since all seed flours are gluten-free it is important not to replace to much flour, otherwise there will not be enough gluten for the recipe to bind together and bake properly. You can also use flax to make a vegan replacement for eggs in some recipes. I’ve included a recipe for a ‘flax egg’, a ‘healthier’ brownie recipe, and a nut-free seed butter recipe to get you guys started incorporating flax seed into your lives. Enjoy!
1 ¼ C Sunflower Seeds
¼ C ground Flax seed, preferably golden
2 TBS Sesame Seeds
¼ C Sunflower oil or other if preferred
1 TBS honey
¼ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 F
Spread sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and sesame seeds in a dish and bake. Stir once or twice and bake 8-10 minutes or until fragrant.
Transfer to a food processor, add oil, honey, and salt.
Blend, scraping down sides as you go until smooth and creamy, 5-10 minutes.
6 TBS Water
2 TBS ground Chia Seeds
¾ C Coconut Sugar or sweetener of choice
¼ C + 2 TBS neutral tasting oil (canola, grapeseed, or sunflower)
2 TBS brewed Coffee
1 12-ounce bag Chocolate Chips
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 C white whole-wheat, spelt, or (gluten-free) oat flour
¼ C Flaxseed Meal
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 F
Combine water and chia seeds. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes. Stir to thoroughly mix.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, oil, and coffee. Cook over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
Stir in half the chocolate chips and the vanilla into the sugar mixture. Stir until chips are melted and set aside.
In separate bowl, combine the flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, and salt.
Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl
Stir chia mixture into chocolate mixture.
Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Combine thoroughly.
Mix remaining chocolate chips into the batter.
Line and 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, long enough to hang over the sides.
Pour batter into baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes or until center is set.
Remove pan from oven and cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Serve with fresh fruit or
all by themselves.
1 TBS Flaxseed Meal
2 ½ TBS Water
Add flaxseed meal and water to a dish and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to recipes in place of 1 egg.
It’s not an exact 1:1 substitution in every recipe because it doesn’t bind and stiffen during baking quite like an egg does. But can work incredibly well in pancakes, brownies, muffins, cookies, quick breads and many other recipes.