Flaxseeds have gotten a lot of attention recently as a superfood. I want to explain why these superfoods are so beneficial, specifically focusing how they help to prevent cancer. I will talk about what to look for in flaxseeds and show good ways to incorporate flaxseeds into your daily diet with a green smoothie recipe.
Flaxseeds contain lignans which help to metabolize estrogens in the body into safer forms. This helps to decrease hormonal cancer risks such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.
Flaxseeds are also high in fiber adding about 8 grams of fiber to the diet per tablespoon. It is recommended to eat between 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Most Americans do not get close to this recommended amount. Flaxseeds can help in achieving the fiber goals for the day while also assisting in keeping you regular! Ground flaxseeds are best because, not only do they increase fiber intake, but they have great binding potential. They can help to bind up extra estrogens and toxins in the body, while also helping to promote a healthy cholesterol panel. It is important to begin slowly with flaxseeds, however. Starting with a teaspoon and gradually working up to 2 tablespoons can help to prevent any bloating!
Finally, flaxseeds are a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many Americans are not consuming enough omega-3s in their diet. Omega-3s help to decrease inflammation which in turn can have a positive, cancer preventing effect on the body, among numerous other health benefits as well.
It is always best to look for USDA certified organic flaxseeds. I prefer mine to be whole because they keep longer, but already ground can be helpful for some people. Just make sure to keep your flax – both whole and ground – in the fridge or freezer. This helps to keep the oils from oxidizing and flaxseeds fresh longer. To get the flax into your diet, always make sure they are ground before consumption as the body does not digest whole flaxseeds well. There are many way to add ground flaxseeds to your diet. Some of my favorite means of adding flax is to my oatmeal, yogurt, pancake batter, and even in my smoothies!
Here is a recipe to help welcome you to the world of green smoothies — and while it is bright green in color, it tastes much more like a banana and nut butter smoothie!
- 1/2 to 1 whole banana (I like mine frozen!)
- 1 Tablespoon nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew – try to avoid added sugars)
- 1 large handful (~1 cup) spinach (spinach has a mild flavor so is a good green to begin with)
- 1 teaspoon to up to 2 Tablespoons of flaxseed
- Unsweetened almond milk (or whichever type of milk you like to use) to cover and blend — about 1/4-1/2 cup
- Sometimes I like to add protein powder to my smoothie to make it a mealDirections: Combine all ingredients into a blender and Blend, Blend, Blend!!
We currently carry both ground and whole flaxseeds in the apothecary at the Center for Holistic Medicine. Stop by to pick some up and add the superfood, flaxseeds, into your diet today!