Superfood Spotlight: Flaxseeds

FlaxseedsHappy Birthday to my mom who would have turned 84 this month had she lived. In 1986, she was diagnosed with the breast cancer that would take her life just three years later. I write today not only to honor her memory, but for all of the moms out there that have battled or are battling this terrible disease. Through having come through the fire that is cancer myself, I have learned much about food and its profound effects on our health. This is why I am so passionate about healthy eating and why I write a great deal about food. And one of the most powerful anti-cancer foods on the planet is flaxseeds.

The two main varieties of flaxseeds are brown or golden and they are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and the richest source of lignans. Lignans are converted in the human digestive tract to enterolignans and studies have indicated that these enterolignans may have the ability to block the effects of estrogen in the body. Because of this, there is much interest in the scientific community as to how foods rich in lignans may help to reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers like breast cancer. Flaxseeds have also been shown to offer protective effects against cardiovascular disease, not only because of their lignin content but because they are such a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

Flaxseeds take the crown for lignin content in the plant world. But, lignans can be found in a wide variety of other plant foods such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds, oats, beans, berries, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Chia seeds are another nutritional powerhouse and also a rich source of lignans. CLICK HERE to read all about the awesomeness of chia seeds.

The best way to eat flaxseeds is to grind them first in order to break them down to get all of the health benefits of these tiny, but mighty gems. You want to buy flaxseeds whole and then grind them just before eating. Never buy ground flaxseeds because they can go rancid very quickly. By the way, flaxseed oil doesn’t contain lignans, as they are bound to the fiber in the flaxseeds. I love to sprinkle ground flaxseeds on my morning steel-cut oats, they give the oats such a delicious nutty flavor, yum! And they are great to add to smoothies. No need to grind them, just dump them into your blender with the other ingredients. And You don’t need much, one tablespoon will do.

While consuming flaxseeds does offer fantastic health-protective benefits, you also want to be sure to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables which contain phytochemicals, fiber, and other health boosters. To your good health!

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