The diet of the average American just plain sucks. As a nation, we eat wayyy too much sodium, sugar, and processed foods, and our food in general just isn’t as varied or as nutritious as it used to be.
I could go on and on about our skyrocketing obesity rates, nutrient-barren food and ghastly food industry, but I’m sure you get the gist. This blog post is about looking forward, not backward.
I consider myself a pretty healthy eater – I’m gluten-free and just a few short months ago I became vegan. Recently, I stumbled upon the incredible nutritional power of flax seeds. About the size of a grain of rice, these brownish-yellow seeds can be bought in bulk at almost any natural grocery store or health food store.
What’s so great about these little guys? Well, if nature made a health supplement, it would be flax seeds. Flax seed shells have an abundance of lignans, chemical compounds that basically super charge the human body. The lignans in flax seeds…
- …boost the immune system, making your body more resilient against disease and infection.
- …pack a whopping 2.8 grams of fiber per tablespoon, which helps in digestion and lowering cholesterol.
- …have powerful antioxidants that help keep your cells functioning properly and help you look and feel young. (We suffer age-related problems because our cells get worse at replicating as time goes on – antioxidants counteract this decay.)
In addition to this, cutting edge researchers are publishing scientific papers that suggest that flax seed might actually have cancer-fighting properties. Pretty exciting stuff.
The body most easily absorbs all the nutrients flax seeds have to offer if you pulverize them first. This honestly isn’t all that difficult to do – I personally use a NutriBullet blender, though I have heard a coffee grinder works well, too.
The fine seed powder can be mixed into almost anything. Add it to your marinades, put it in smoothies, even bake it into cookies. The seeds have a very subtle, almost non-existent flavor and the texture is pleasant and complimentary to everything I’ve tried them in.
Flax seed oil, though similar sounding, has a completely different health benefit. The oil doesn’t have the antioxidants and lignans that the seeds themselves offer, but it does contain huge amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which improve the function of brain cells, keep the blood healthy and clotting properly, and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough omega-3s.
I recommend buying a bottle of cold-pressed flax seed oil and gulping down one or two tablespoons per day. Consider it part of your daily health routine.
Superfoods like flax can’t help you if you don’t eat them. That’s why I was so drawn to flax initially – it’s easy to sneak flax seeds into almost any recipe, and the oil can be taken quickly out of a spoon, cough syrup-style.
If you have any questions or comments about flax seed or flax oil, I’m all ears! Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below.