How to use flaxseeds in your diet

Several readers have queried me regarding flaxseeds and its use in our daily meals. So, let me share with my readers the benefits of this seed and how it can be included in our diet.

Flaxseeds have gained popularity as being beneficial in treating a variety of diseases from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to cancers of breast, prostate and colon, and heart diseases. Although more research is needed to establish conclusive evidence that flaxseeds may be prescribed for the several more illnesses, one thing we can be sure – That is, flaxseeds are the highest plant source with omega 3 fatty acids and they are very high in lignans and mucilages (soluble fibre).

Here is how we can make the best use of flaxseeds.
1. Flaxseeds absorb water 10 to 14 times its weight because of its high fibre content. This behaviour makes it an effective laxative in those who have constipation, gives bulking effect, reduces hunger in those trying to eat less and helps in binding with and removing fats and cholesterol. Take one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds mixed with 5 to 10 ounces of water to curb hunger between meals or as a therapy to reduce cholesterol or blood sugar. The high fibre content also makes flaxseeds a good ingredient in foods that would control blood sugar.

2. Add ground flaxseeds to your salad. The ground form is more digestible and hence it is best used ground.

3. Add to your bowl of cereal or oatmeal to increase the health benefits.

4. Add to soups, lassi, dosa batter, chapatti dough, buttermilk, upuma (after cooking), casseroles, fruit smoothies, juices or low fat milk or to chutneys.

5. As compared to one tablespoon of walnut oil or canola oil, just one teaspoon of flaxseed oil provides equivalent alpha linolenic acid that is cardioprotective.

6. One to two tablespoon of flaxseeds or one to two teaspoon of flax seed oil is required a day for adults (over 18 years) to derive its benefits.

7. Ground flaxseeds will lose the nutritive value if exposed to air or sunlight. Therefore, it should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a dark cool place. It is best to buy whole flaxseeds and grind a little at a time, say whatever amount is needed for a week and then store it in the fridge.

9. Heat destroys the oil so flax seed oil should be added only to cold foods.

10. When initially starting to use flaxseeds, use small amounts to make sure you are not allergic to it. Pregnant and lactating ladies and children should consult a physician before opting to include flaxseeds in their diet.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day when you take flaxseeds is essential. Because of its fibre content, ground flaxseeds are preferred to flax seed oil and healthier.

If you are a vegetarian, take 2 tablespoons a day. If you are eating fish regularly, then one tablespoon of flaxseeds will do.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/


More by this author:

How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet

Dieting tips for those at work

Image: Getty Images

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