Key ingredient: Flaxseed

Key ingredient: Flaxseed

Nuts and seeds should be a staple of any healthy eating plan — they're a natural source of vitamins and minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber. Eating the right portions of nuts and seeds (about one handful a day) can keep you feeling full, stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Flaxseed is one kind of seed that can have big health benefits. Two tablespoons of flaxseed has about 100 calories, but also contains about three grams of protein, four grams of fiber, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Flaxseed is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation. It may also help lower cholesterol levels, reducing risk of heart disease.

If you’ve never eaten flaxseed before, there are a few things you should know. First, experts recommend consuming ground flaxseed rather than whole seeds, as the body has a difficult time breaking down (and thus getting the nutritional benefit) of whole seeds. You can buy flaxseed already ground, or toss whole seeds into a coffee grinder to grind the flaxseed up before eating it.

Ground flaxseed also tends to have a short shelf life (just a few weeks), so only grind what you need, and if you buy pre-ground flaxseed meal, use it up quickly before it spoils. Whole flaxseeds will keep at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil should be refrigerated to preserve it as long as possible.

You can easily add ground flaxseed meal into muffin, pancake or bread mix, or blend it into a smoothie or juice. Top your hot or cold cereal with ground flaxseed for a nutritious morning boost. Flaxseed oil is another healthy option, and while it has a low smoke point, making it a less-than-desirable cooking oil, try whisking it into homemade salad dressing.

Ready to try flaxseed? Try this delicious recipe for bran flax muffins.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup skim milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups shredded carrots
2 apples, peeled, shredded
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped mixed nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, flax seed, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla and oil; mix until just blended. Stir in the carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake at 350° F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

 

Posted: 4/22/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: healthy eating, nutrition

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