I’ve recently been sent away on a job in Italy where the food that’s served to us is mainly (surprise surprise!) pasta, pizza, white bread, fries, various meat and vegetables consist of tomatoes, shredded lettuce/carrot, maybe some form of super boiled vegetables.
Some thing lacking here is a healthy amount of lipids (fats) and quality fibre.
I came across flaxseed meal and thought PERFECT! Omega-3 fatty acids, high in fibre & protein PLUS phytochemicals and it’s gluten free.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This type of fatty acid is called “essential” because our bodies can’t synthesize it. Flaxseeds have the highest amount of ALA (alpha-linolenic-acid) out of all plant sources of ALA. Important for it’s anti-inflammatory effects & lowering risk of heart disease. Fish should still be eaten to ensure EPA (omega-3) and DHA (omega-6) intakes are adequate – an emphasis on omega-3 intake may be of use as therapy for anti-inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, MS & high intakes have been shown to help chronic asthma sufferers.)
Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre can absorb and retain water meaning it helps slow down digestion. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable, better nutrient absorption and helps reduce blood cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre can’t be broken down by the body and is mostly known for keep bowel movements regular. This also means it may help prevent colon cancer.
Phytochemicals – Lignans
I will cover this topic in a future post but basically phytochemicals come with many natural health benefits. Flaxseeds are rich in a phytochemical called lignans (a plant form of esrogen) that have an antioxidant effect and can help support the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Vitamins & Minerals
Flaxseeds are a good source of vitamin B-1, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Vitamin B-1 (known as Thiamin) is used for metabolizing carbohydrates and branch-chain amino acids.
Magnesium contributes to bone structure and strength. Phosphorus is essential to every cell in the body and a major component of teeth and bones. Copper helps prevent damage to cells during inflammation/infection and plays an important role in connective tissue formation.
Adding flaxseed to your diet can help reduce hypertension (high-blood pressure), beneficial for your skin, and most importantly helps prevent prostate cancer.
Along with these benefits the high fat content in flaxseeds help you feel satiated (or full) for longer, stopping you from craving more food.
I sprinkle the ground up seeds (build up to 1 tablespoon a day) in salads/on fruit salad, in yoghurt and you can use it to make cookies, pancakes and other baked treats as a replacement for flour.
1 – Marieb, E. and Hoehn, K. 2013 Human Anatomy and Physiology, 9th ed, Pearson Education, Australia.
2 – Dietary Guidelines For Australian Adults – NHMRC 2003