Have you ever used flax in your cooking? Have you ever even heard of flax? Hubs and I are, according to some
ahem...Mama health nuts. After college, when I was on Active Duty Navy and not taking the best care of my body, I started loosely following the South Beach Diet. I learned how to substitute certain ingredients (whole wheat grains and pastas, cheeses made with 2& or skim milk, no-sugar added products, and more).
When Hubs and I got married, we got even more regimented, helping to keep each other in check, reducing our alcohol and dessert intake, and making gym dates a regular occurrence. Hubs discovered flax seed, and we've been using it for a few years now!
So...what is flax seed? Well, it's a phytoestrogen, or a plant estrogen. It's a magic little food with a nutty taste that boasts a plethora of health benefits. Here are just a few things that "Flax fights":
- LDL ("bad" cholesterol)
- heart disease
Flax is full of omega-3 fatty acids (those essential fatty acids - EFAs - we're always trying to incorporate into our daily diet). It's those EFAs that help with inflammation, and therefore rheumatoid arthritis. Since flax is a natural estrogen, it helps reduce menopausal symptoms like night sweats, irritability, and hot flashes. Yes, that means you might not need hormone replacement therapy! Flax has dozens of other health benefits as well; it boosts the immune system and is thought to reduce the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Read all about flax seed here.
OK. Great. I get that flax is an awesome super food. So how do I get it and what do I do with it? Well, I buy milled (ground) flax seed in either the health aisle or the baking aisle (near the flour, etc). I sprinkle up to half a cup in pancakes, muffins or cookies, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, spaghetti sauce, and more. As I said, it has a nutty flavor, so it's more easily disguised in hearty dishes or baked goods, rather than lighter dishes like seafood and pesto-style sauces. We've even found a fabulous bread that is fortified with flax!
As with any health advise, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician before starting something new. But do start the conversation about incorporating flax into your diet with your healthcare provider! I promise it's a super easy way to be just a little bit more healthy...something we could all use!