Flax seeds are up next and I’m happy to report that I like flax seeds and I eat them regularly. They have a host of health benefits , but most people do not properly prepare them, and therefore do not get to capitalize on their health benefits. Read on for how to properly prepare flax. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends adding ground flaxseeds to homemade granola bars or to strawberry-banana smoothies. In the food facts, I’ll add some precautions about using ground flaxseeds in these manners.
- Flax seeds are a good source of fiber.
- High in vitamin B6, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper.
- They are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid and phytoestrogens known as lignans. These have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Flax have been shown to protect against prostate cancer.
- Highest plant sources of omega-3 oils
- Benefits heart, arteries, skin, hair, & brain
- Great for your gut & constipation
- Antioxidant rich
- Protects against breast & colon cancers
- Create a mucilage when soaked in liquids (similar to chia seeds)
- Their densely packed nutrition cannot be accessed if not properly prepared. The body simply cannot digest, and therefore take advantage of, the nutrients housed in whole flaxseeds.
- You can grind them yourself if you have a Vitamix 32-ounce Dry Grains Container for a Vitamix Blender, or something similar. You can also buy them already ground, BUT the container should be opaque and there should be an expiration date that is fairly soon (a couple of months). They should be stored in the fridge (as with all raw nuts and seeds).
- You can also soak whole flaxseeds in liquid. This will increase their absorption. If you plan to add them to your yogurt, I suggest that you add them the night before. If you plan to add them to a smoothie, add them to whatever liquid you use in the smoothie the night before and allow them to soak overnight.
- I’m still on the fence about baking with them. Because Omega-3s are a fragile fat (heat-sensitive) I worry about baking with them. But I also know that while the oven gets fairly warm, the internal temperatures of baked goods doesn’t necessarily get to the oven temp. My current opinion is: if you bake with them, the oven temp should be 325-350 maximum and don’t eat them in baked goods all that often.
- Flaxseed oils should always be cold pressed, purchased in opaque bottles, and should be refrigerated.
- Be sure to never heat flax oil to avoid oxidation!
- Flaxseeds contain a moderate amount of oxalate, so those with a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should watch their consumption.
From Bauman College lecture notes, The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes, by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet, by Tonia Reinhard, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
Photo Cred: Luv Kreativ Photography
Sunflower butter or sunbutter is a great option for those that are allergic to nuts but can tolerate seeds. It has a great peanut-y flavor. As with all nuts and seeds, I recommend opting for organic because fat is where the toxins (herbicides) are stored. I also generally recommend raw nuts and seeds because roasting can damage the fragile fats and is often used to hide the rancidity of nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds have a season when they are fresh, just like all fruits and veggies. Choosing raw allows you to know that the nuts and seeds are still fresh. Although, raw and organic nut butters are CRAZY expensive (like $12-$25 for a fairly small jar). You can certainly make your own. Add the nuts or seeds to a food processor and turn it on. Once they become the right consistency, turn off and store in a jar (in the fridge to slow the oxidation process). Some people add salt, sugar, or oil to it. Feel free to experiment away!
Jennifer Tyler Lee, like many parents, was looking for a nut-free alternative for her children while at school. She suggests using it as you would peanut butter…ants on a log and apple slices dipped in sunbutter. She also suggests a no bake snack called Bitty Bites. I would obviously sub out the whole wheat flour for a grain-free option like cassava flour.
- Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and E, folate, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein.
- Sunflower seeds contain phytochemicals, especially phytosterols, which can help to lower blood cholesterol.
- They are a great source of monounsaturated fats (24 grams per 1/3 cup serving).
- Sunflower seeds also contain arginine an essential amino acid that is important during periods of growth.
- Contain heart healthy compounds.
- Have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiallergenic.
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.
As I read more, listen to my lectures, and talk to friends and clients, I have come to the belief that there are about 10 recommendations that I often suggest to people. These same 10 suggestions apply for most people and for most health concerns. If you were trying to make healthier choices in your diet, this is a basic list that can be your jumping off point. Here are my recommendations for 10 things to add to or replace in your diet. But not until Friday. 😉 After all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and life is for living and enjoying. You have to live your life and holiday foods most definitely qualify.
|Eat This 🙂
||Instead of That 🙁
Butter is great to cook with because unlike most vegetable oils, it does not oxidize at low temperatures. It reduces inflammation and is rich in conjugated-linoleic acid and vitamins A, D & K2.
Margarine is made of crop oils that are partially hydrogenated, turning them from liquid into a solid. This turns the fats into trans fats, substances that our bodies have trouble recognizing and processing.
Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides, which are antiviral and antibacterial. These medium chain fatty acids are easily absorbed by the body and protect against heart disease and promote weight loss. It is a great high heat cooking oil, as it doesn’t oxidize at low temperatures.
|All other Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils oxidize at lower temperatures, meaning they become damaged and inflammatory when used in cooking. They are also highly processed using high heat, so they are likely damaged even before used in cooking. When exposed to light (through the clear bottles the are packaged in) further oxidation occurs.
|Honey, Maple Syrup, Date Sugar, or Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is a low-glycemic sweetener. Both coconut sugar and date sugar are not as heavily processed as other sugars. Raw honey and maple syrup are not processed either. These all make great sugar alternatives when used in moderation.
|Sugar, Agave, Artificial Sweeteners
High blood sugar is a problem with many health concerns. Artificial sweeteners are linked to declines in kidney function, brain tumors, autoimmune conditions, and are potential neurotoxins. Agave, while a low-glycemic sweetener, is heavily processed, making it similar to high-fructose corn syrup.
|Raw Nuts and Seeds
Seeds contain all the nutrients for that the plant needs to start life, making them nutrient dense. They are often rich in omega-3s, great sources of protein, fats, and vitamins and minerals. Nuts and seeds have a “season” like all other produce, and can go bad like all other produce, so they should be eaten raw.
|Roasted Nuts and Seeds
Similarly to crop oils, nuts and seeds oxidize when exposed to high heats, therefore roasted nuts and seeds are likely to cause oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. Nuts and seeds are also often roasted to preserve them, but also to hide the rancidity of the nuts or seeds.
For a treat, sparkling water is a nice alternative to regular filtered water. Adding fruit, a squeeze of lime juice, or some grapefruit essential oil to the sparkling water can also help to break up the repetition.
Sugary drinks actually cause the taste buds to crave more sugar. To process sugars, vitamins and minerals must be taken from the tissues, therefore repeated exposure can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
The best salt choices are not white – either grey, pink, or other colors. These salts contain trace minerals that we need and can be hard to find.
Iodized salt often has added sugar and aluminum. It is also processed to remove all other trace minerals.
|Spaghetti Squash, Zoodles, or Kelp Noodles
These are nutrient dense substitutions for pasta and are low in calories. Zoodles are zucchini that have been spiralized into spaghetti-like noodles.
Pasta is a refined food that is rich in calories, but low in nutrients. While it may be tasty, it’s a modern convenience food that isn’t needed.
Herbals teas are a great alternative to coffee. Teas do not create the stress response that coffee does and are often filled with nutritional benefits.
Coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol and adrenaline, keeping the adrenals on overload. It also raises blood sugar and depletes vitamins and minerals.
Dairy is a good source of protein, healthy fats, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.
When you remove the fat from dairy, you are left with a lot of dairy sugar, lactose. Nature would not package something “bad” with something good just for us to wait thousands of years for scientists to learn how to separate the fat out of dairy.
Eggs do contain cholesterol and fat, and the reality is that we need both. Both are in every cell of the human body. Cholesterol supports brain function, serotonin production, and it acts as an antioxidant. Your heart gets 60% of its energy from fat and you brain is mostly fat.
|Egg Whites/ Egg Substitutes/ Non-Pasture-raised Eggs
Nature did not package something good for us with something bad for us just to wait thousands of years for humans to invent egg-beaters. You are what you eat, so if you’re eating poorly raised eggs, you are not getting the nutrients that you need.
Health & Hugs <3,
Axe, J. (2015). Step away from the diet coke. Retrieved from http://draxe.com/step-away-from-the-diet-coke/
Bauman, E. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman Press.
Bowden, J. & Sinatra, S. (2012). The Great Cholesterol Myth. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.
Knoff, L (2014) Personal Communication.
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
Wolfe, L. (2013). Eat the Yolks. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.