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Why You Should Be Eating Flaxseed

Why You Should Be Eating Flaxseed

One of the impressionist painter Jean Renoir’s favorite techniques was to dilute oil paint with linseed oil and turpentine so it ran down the canvass. He called it “juice.” Well, these days linseed—what we call flaxseed—is having a Renaissance moment as a food and oil that leads to better health.

The benefits of flaxseed
Flaxseeds (always use the ground variety, not whole) deliver a substantial amount of vitamin B1 and thiamine as well as some B2, B3, B5 B6, folate (B9) and choline. Plus, every tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains almost 2g of fiber and 1.6g of omega-3 ALA fatty acid (which can ease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy). One of flaxseed’s great assets is that it contains 75 to 800 times more lignans, a form of polyphenol, than other plant foods! The lignans and other nutrients in the seed are associated with a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease, the slowing of prostate tumor growth, tamping down your stress response and quelling inflammation.

What about flaxseed oil? The oil is a great source of ALA, but becomes rancid easily (store in the fridge no more than 6 to 8 weeks) and does not contain the lignans, fiber or protein of the ground seeds.

So, how do you get this power-packed seed into your diet? Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder as needed; aim for eating 2-3 tablespoons a day. They add flavor and texture to salads, soups and cereals, steamed veggies, broiled fish and smoothies.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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