Flax seed is a small seed rich in the essential omega 3 fat alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. ALA is called essential because the body cannot manufacture it on its own, and therefore, one has to ingest it. ALA can be found in other foods but the highest concentration is in flax seeds. In order to get the health benefit of the flax seed it needs to be ground. Otherwise it will go through your digestive track undigested, which is helpful for fiber and regularity but without the omega 3 benefit.
Flax seeds are also the richest source of lignans which are plant compounds that help with hormone balance.? When I started using ground flax seeds, I noticed an immediate increase in energy, and a favorable change in my periods and symptoms related to PMS such as cramps and headaches. I won’t go without it and travel with it due to the improvement in my health.
Research now shows ground flax seeds are helpful during peri-menopause, and menopause for hormone stability, a great alternative to taking hormones. For younger women flax seeds can promote normal ovulation and increase fertility. Flax seeds are also being studied for their health role in the prevention of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
Ground flax seeds can be bought in vacuum-sealed packages. After opening, store in the refrigerator and use within 3 months. You can also buy them whole, and grind with a coffee grinder but that seems a little too much work for my tastes. You can purchase them in packets for travel as well and use 1 per day.
Use 1 tablespoon per day to get the recommended amount of ALA. I like to have it first thing in the morning on my yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit and nuts. You can also put it in a smoothie, sprinkle it on a salad or use it on top of a tomato much like bread crumbs. It can make a wonderful substitute for bread crumbs in meatballs, a recipe from my book A Recipe for Life by the Doctor’s Dietitian.
Try different brands as they can taste quite different. Ground flax seeds are one easy addition you can make to your diet and well worth the health benefits!