Flaxseeds and Flaxseed OilArticle from Eating for Energy by registered dietitian Diana Steele
Flaxseeds are, what I would consider, the best, most nutritious seed you could eat and we happen to grow them in our Canadian prairies. Nutritionally they are a powerhouse. The seed itself contains lignans, phytochemicals known to help prevent breast, ovarian and prostate cancers and soluble fibre which helps reduce cholesterol. The oil in flaxseeds contains the highest percentage of omega 3 fats out of all the nuts and seeds. Omega 3 fats are known to reduce inflammation, platelet aggregation, LDL cholesterol, arthritis and blood pressure. Omega 3 fats are also important for brain, nerve and visual development in the fetus and may improve brain function in the elderly.
1 tablespoon of these little seeds provides you with:
- 37 calories
- 3 grams of fat
- 1.6 grams ALA (omega 3 fat)
- 1.25 grams protein
- 2 grams of fibre
The dietary reference intake for omega 3 fats for men is 1.6 grams and for women is 1.1grams. The Canadian diet tends to be too high in omega 6 and not high enough in omega 3. Current estimates indicate a 15:1 omega 6:omega 3 ratio and based on current research a ratio of 4:1 or 2:1 may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis.
- 1 tsp of Flaxseed oil provides you with
- 43 calories
- 4.6 grams of total fat
- 2.6 grams of omega 3 (ALA)
Flaxseeds can be purchased whole, roasted, ground or as an oil. If you buy them whole they should be stored in an air tight container in a dark, dry, cool place and they should last up to a year. Whole seeds can be used in cooking for added fibre, but the real benefit comes when they are ground (use a clean coffee grinder) or roasted and added to foods such as smoothies, oatmeal, fruit parfaits and salads. Ground seeds have had the indigestible shell broken so we get all the beneficial nutrients. Roasting flaxseeds also breaks the hull of the seed allowing for better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Roasted seeds have a delicious toasted aroma and taste.
Ground flaxseeds, also called milled flaxseeds, can be purchased in vacuum sealed containers and once opened should be stored in the fridge or freezer, with the lid on to prevent oxidation of the oils, for up to 6 months. Use it in muffins, bread, oatmeal and smoothies. Flax meal is the leftover byproduct from pressing the oil from the seeds.
Flaxseed oil, once opened, also needs to be refrigerated with the lid on and should be kept in a dark bottle away from the light of the fridge. Traditionally, flaxseed oil has not been recommended for cooking due to its’ low smoke point of 225 degrees F. However, a new company, Alligga, has found a way to cold press the seeds to extract the oil without solvents and then filter out the impurities resulting in an oil with a smoke point of 482 degrees. Alligga Flaxseed oil is organic, non GMO and made with Saskatchewan flaxseeds. Flaxseed oil with a high smoke point can be used in recipes such as stir fry, roasted vegetables, soups, grilled meats, veggie burgers and muffins or banana bread. It can also be used as a traditional flax oil as a topping, salad dressing or supplement. Alligga also makes flavoured flaxseed oils such as orange, rosemary, curry and chili. There are delicious recipes on www.alligga.com such as Pesto with Arugula and Hazelnuts which would be delicious as a marinade for chicken or on a pizza.
Finally, a flaxseed oil we can cook with!!
Diana M.Steele, B.Sc. (Diet.),RD