Boost your fibre and omega-3 intake with flaxseeds

Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are small seeds from the flax plant. There are two varieties of flaxseeds: brown and golden, both of which have similar nutritional profiles.

With a mild, nutty flavour and chewy texture, flaxseeds are incredibly versatile and can be added to pretty much any recipe to enhance the texture and taste.

Discover the health benefits of flaxseeds and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Health benefits of flaxseeds

Despite their tiny size, flaxseeds are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with essential nutrients, including:

Omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds are one of the best plant-based sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is beneficial for heart health, brain function and reducing inflammation.

Dietary fibre. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble, to help promote digestion and regular bowel movements, regulate blood sugars and support a healthy gut.

Flaxseeds contain a considerable amount of plant-based protein, making them a valuable addition to vegetarian and vegan diets. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, hormone and antibody production, and transporting other nutrients around the body.

Lignans are antioxidant compounds that have shown potential anti-cancer effects. They also contain phyto-oestrogenic properties which may help regulate hormonal balance and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause and hormonal imbalance.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative damage, reduces free radicals in the body and supports immune function.

Magnesium which is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in over 300 processes in the body including muscle function, nerve transmission and bone health.

Potassium is an important mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure, heart rhythm, and fluid balance in the body.

B vitamins: Flaxseeds are a source of several B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), niacin (B3) and pyridoxine (B6). These vitamins are involved in energy production, nervous system function, and metabolism.

Zinc is a mineral that supports immune function, wound healing and normal growth and development.

How to use flaxseeds in cooking

Flaxseeds can be eaten whole or ground. Grinding flaxseeds allows your body to absorb their nutrients more effectively. You can grind them using a coffee grinder or buy pre-ground flaxseeds which is also called flaxseed meal of flaxseed flour. It’s best to store ground flaxseeds in the fridge to maintain freshness.

You can add ground flaxseeds to smoothies, pancake mixture, overnight oats, veggie burgers, yoghurt or baked goods such as homemade bread and muffins.

The whole seeds can be sprinkled over salads and roasted vegetables.

Flaxseed oil is another great way to consume flaxseeds as it provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can drizzle the oil over salads or cooked dishes. Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds using a cold pressed method where the seeds are gently pressed using a mechanical press. Cold pressing involves minimal heat, ensuring that the oil retains its nutritional integrity and delicate flavour. As flaxseed oil is highly perishable and sensitive to heat, light and air, it’s best to store it in a dark glass bottle in the fridge to prevent it going rancid.

Vegan egg substitute – flaxseeds are a good egg substitute or binding agent (to hold other ingredients together) for vegan recipes, thanks to their unique gel-like properties when added to liquid. You must grind flaxseeds into a fine powder before mixing them with water. This helps release their nutrients and enhances their binding properties.

To replace one egg in a recipe, combine 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens to a gel-like consistency. This flaxseed gel acts as a binding agent and emulsifier, similar to eggs in baking. In some recipes, you may need to slightly increase the amount of liquid ingredients (such as water or plant-based milk) to compensate for the additional thickening effect of the flaxseed gel.

Boost your nutrition with flaxseeds

Incorporating flaxseeds into your daily diet can provide a wealth of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, lignans and antioxidants. Whether ground or in the form of oil, flaxseeds offer a versatile and delicious way to enhance your meals while promoting optimal health.

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