Super Food of the Week: Flaxseed

With an abundance of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, the warm , earth and subtle nutty flavor of flaxseeds have become increasing popular in the diets of many health conscious consumers. Flaxseeds are available year round in the form of whole, ground, as well as in oil form. Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their color can range from deep amber to a reddish brown depending on the variety. However all varieties are nutrient dense with a host of healthful benefits.

Flaxseeds are rich in a particular type of omega-3 fats which are used by the body to produce anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules. Omega-3, specifically the alpha linoleum acid found in flaxseeds, have been shown to promote bone health by helping to lower the ration of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. By lowering this ratio it reduces the amount of bone loss. Omega-3 fats are also used to produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Omega-3 fats are essential in producing flexible cell membranes. Cell membranes are the cell’s gatekeepers, allowing nutrients in and the elimination of wastes. Although important for everyone, it is most critical for persons with diabetes since flexible cell membranes have a much better ability to respond to insulin and to absorb glucose than stiff cell membranes.

Omega-3 fats are far from all flaxseeds have to offer. Flaxseed meal and flour provides a very good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals, help relieve constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Magnesium is also found in abundance in flaxseeds, which help to reduce the severity of asthma by keeping airways relaxed and open as well as lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attach and stroke. Flaxseeds have also been found to be rich in lignans, a special compound found in other seeds, grains and legumes which aid in the production of hormone-like agents that demonstrate protective effects against breast cancer. In addition, flaxseed has been proven to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women by almost 60%.

With an abundance of nutrients flaxseed ranks right up there with salmon for one of the healthiest foods to foster healthy hair. Although salmon does have a huge host of different nutrients from flaxseeds are off the charts with the amount of omega 3 fatty acids which makes this a great omega 3 alternative for vegetarians. Flaxseeds are actually higher in omega-3 fats than salmon. Flaxseeds can be added to homemade muffins, cookies, or bread recipes. You can beef up the nutritional punch of your breakfast shake or hot or cold cereal by adding ground flaxseeds. Also you can add a table spoon of flaxseed oil to your smoothies. 

Fit Tip of The Week: Q & A

Q: Which vegetables and/or fruits are best when juicing?

A: This is kind of a difficult question to answer. To be honest, I really don’t have an answer. For one I’m not a juicer (with the exception of Orange Juice and V8 splash) and second every fruit and vegetable offers different nutrients in different amounts. My best advise is to juice your colors. Regardless if you juice or eat your fruits and vegetables whole, choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in color ensures that you get the most bang for your buck. Juicing or eating fruits and veggies of different colors offers your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. For fruits and vegetables that are orange (like carrots, pumpkins and peaches) will contain beta-carotene and bioflavonoid which are powerful antioxidants. A few years ago The National Cancer Institute in partnership with the 5 A Day government campaign published a chart that brakes down fruits and veggies into 5 basic colors; green, orange, red, blue/purple, and white. They also described the polynutrient found in that particular color group as well as the benefits and examples of foods that would fit into that color group. This chart still pretty much holds true. Again eating a variety of colors from this chart not only keeps boredom at bay it helps to balance your diet thereby balancing your nutrient intake. That would my best answer to your question. Now how you choose to combine these to make your juice is up to you and your tastes. If you would like to check out the chart I mentioned you can find it here:

I hope this helps. Until next week…