Monday, 21 April 2014

What are the benefits of flaxseeds?!

About three or four years ago I was advised to start incorporating flaxseeds into my diet and ever since have sprinkled a little here and there over my foods. When I first started using flaxseeds, they weren’t really common place but now they are readily available in the high street health shops and feature more and more in recipes and baking.  I know that they are good for you and that they are full of fibre, so I have brought a little tupperware box of them to South Africa with me to sprinkle over my brekkie and salads when we are on the road.

I bought these from Holland & Barraett

But before I went away, flaxseeds had got me thinking….
what is it about the flaxseed that makes it a health food? What are the benefits? Why was I recommended to add it to my diet (my memory doesn’t stretch back that far)?

So I did a little research in my quest to know more about their health benefits…

What are they?

Flaxseeds  are the seeds that come from the flax plant (funnily enough) which if you, like me, have never even heard of that plant before, looks like this…

picture from Auntie Dogma

You can buy them whole in their original form as a seed but also in a ground form or as oil. I would recommend buying them ground as the seeds can often pass straight through the body, which will provide the body with no health benefits whatsoever, plus it can irritate the lining of the stomach for people with IBS (trust me!)

I  buy the milled variety 

What do they do?

They have been noted as helping to burn fat, be high in omega 3 and full of fibre. Also rich in antioxidants and  B vitamins, plus it is also low in carbs, starches and sugars so will help keep you fuller for longer!

If you suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, a diet including faxseeds may help lower this, plus some research shows that flaxseeds can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease! By gosh!


Be careful when storing them as they are an unsaturated fat and unless they are stored in a sealed container in a cool dark place then they can go rancid (the light will speed up the rancid process). Ground flaxseed will keep fresh for a few months if kept well (the seeds will keep for up to a year). Make sure you check the packet when you buy them as you don’t want to be buying something too close to the sell by date. (In fact this is a top tip for buying any food as I bought packet of crisp bites the other day that went out of date the day after and I wasn’t planning on eating them yet. Annoying.)

How to eat

You can do quite a lot with ground flaxseed.  A friend of mine makes bread with it, and you can add it to dishes to add bulk, such as to meatballs or grain dishes. I must admit I am pretty basic with mine and usually just sprinkle a little on my porridge, bowls or yoghurt and fruit, salads and quinoa salads and in my protein bars etc.  I haven’t really done any baking with it, although I did make some tasty protein balls with it.

Back home I have been sprinkling them on breakfast 

sprinkles on my breakfast quinoa bake -  recipe here

If you are new to flaxseeds, most dieticians recommend that you ease into having these in your diet as the high fibre content can have an OTT laxative effect which I am guessing you don’t want.

So as you can see, this tiny little thing packs a powerful punch, and I definitely recommend sprinkling a bit into your diet every now and again!

I have been using a flaxseed blend, which includes a mix of pumpkin and seeds.

If you have any flaxseed recipes, please leave a comment!!! Thanks

X x X

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