Flax (Health) Hacks

Flax On, Flax Off...

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you may have recognized that my approach to health is all about what you can ADD to your lifestyle to increase your longevity and quality of life rather than providing you with a list of restrictions and off-limit foods.  When I tell myself I can't have a piece of chocolate cake I start to obsess about having a piece of chocolate cake.  It's human psychology- we want what we can't have.  A better approach is to add healthful foods to your daily routine and as a result you start to naturally crowd out the so called 'bad foods' without even really noticing.  Tricky, tricky.  

So let me tell you 'bout a healthy little hack that you can add to your lifestyle to combat a whole myriad of health problems: the flaxseed (a.k.a. linseed).  It's got a nice nutty flavor and is super versatile.

What can it do for me?

Not only are flaxseeds loaded with antioxidants (lignans), fiber, magnesium, protein and essential ALA omega-3 fatty acids, but they also do all of this:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce 'bad' cholesterol and improve HDL (the good cholesterol)
  • Help prevent breast, ovarian, colon AND prostate cancer
  • Relieve constipation
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve hair and skin health
  • Reduce sugar cravings
  • Promote weight loss
  • Reduce dry eye syndrome
  • Ease menopausal symptoms

Worth the daily addition, right?

The health benefits of flax seem endless, just like this hallway in Lisbon, Portugal!

The health benefits of flax seem endless, just like this hallway in Lisbon, Portugal!

Note to Self

Flax seeds come in a tight little package that your digestive system can't really break down- flax in, flax out.  The best way around this is to opt for GROUND flaxseed.  You can grind up the seeds yourself in a coffee grinder or purchase packaged ground flax.  In my last 6 months of international travel, I've had no trouble spotting ground flax on the shelves and have been known to carry a package around with me in my suitcase (along with turmeric, cinnamon and chia seeds!).  Use it to replace eggs in baked goods (making them cholesterol free!), sprinkle it on oatmeal, pasta, soups and salads or toss a tablespoon in a smoothie (this will thicken up the liquid).  Flax should last at least 4 months at room temperature- but if your consuming it on the reg as you should be, the bag probably won't last that long anyway! Aim for 1 tablespoon of ground flax each day.  

Bob's Red Mill is one of my favorite brands.

Make your own flax crackers

Mix 2 cups of ground flaxseeds with a cup of water, add whatever herbs and spices you want (turmeric, paprika, garlic powder, etc), and then spread the dough thinly on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cut the dough into about 32 crackers and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool, then dip in hummus, baba ghanoush, or whatever you fancy.

What's your favorite way to use flax?

Flaxseed travels everywhere with me- from the U.S. to Asia to Europe!  Photo cred: Kathrin Peters

Flaxseed travels everywhere with me- from the U.S. to Asia to Europe!  Photo cred: Kathrin Peters

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