The TV docs keep telling us to get more omega-3 fatty acids into our diet. Those special fats found in abundance in oily fish like salmon are powerful foes of inflammation, and they are essential nutrients for your heart and brain. But what if you don’t like fish? You need to the get the facts about flax.
Flaxseed is one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s, and it’s incredibly easy to sneak into your diet throughout the day. Check it out.
8 Ways to Add Flaxseed to Your Food
- Sprinkle on top of yogurt or hot cereal at breakfast
- Sprinkle on top of eggs
- Mix a small amount into your salad
- Stir in soup, stew, or chili
- Add to stir fry
- Mix in spaghetti sauce
- Add to salad dressing
- Toss a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into a smoothie
Flaxseed is ideal for Vegan, Paleo, Keto, and Whole Food enthusiasts alike because it offers the benefits of healthy fats, fiber, protein and phytonutrients in a tiny, convenient package that fits perfectly into all those diet styles. Plus, every seed is packed with ancient history: It was first cultivated in Babylon in 3000 BC as a multi-purpose plan. The Egyptians made exquisite linen from flaxseed and considered the fabric as a symbol of purity.
For modern Spartans, flaxseed is pure nutrition. Read on to learn more about how to use this amazing seed to improve your health and athletic performance.
How to Eat Flaxseed
Flaxseed can be found for purchase as either whole or ground flaxseed (also called milled flaxseed or flaxseed meal). The outer hull of the flaxseed is difficult for our digestive system to break through. And since the nutritional benefits are located within this tiny seed, getting access to that nutrition requires either extensive chewing, or simply grinding them up. A simple coffee grinder will do the trick. If you don't do this step you will miss out on all the nutrients in flaxseeds and be wasting your time.
Why would food manufacturers use whole flaxseed? They aren’t necessarily trying to put one over on you (although some may). Adding whole flaxseed to products can add a crunchy texture. Additionally, ground flaxseed goes rancid sooner than whole, so using ground flax would mean a product cannot stay on the shelf as long. When buying a food for the flax benefits, check the ingredients for the ground version, or one that has both whole and ground.
Buying whole flax seeds can be more cost effective and will help them keep longer. Regardless of whether you buy whole or ground, be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer to lengthen their shelf life from a few weeks all the way up to a year!
Pro Tip: Buy whole seeds, store in the freezer, and use a small coffee grinder to grind just what you need each day. Keep extra in a small container in the fridge. Ground flaxseed will go rancid in as little as a week if left at room temperature due to the oxidation.
Storage & Preparation
Flaxseed can be found for purchase as either whole or ground flaxseed (also called mille flaxseed or flaxseed meal). Buying whole flax seeds can be more cost-effective and will help them keep longer. Regardless of whether you buy whole or ground, be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer to lengthen their shelf life from a few weeks all the way up to a year!
Pro tip: Buy whole seeds, store in the freezer, and use a small coffee grinder to grind just what you need each day. Keep extra in a small container in the fridge. Ground flaxseed will go rancid in as little as a week if left at room temperature due to the oxidation.
Alternative Use: Flaxseeds are also used as an egg substitute in vegan baking. For each egg replaced, mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is gelatinous.
People love the term “Superfood.” As if eating all of the Superfoods meant that you have somehow solved the riddle of perfect health, weight management, optimal performance, or whatever your goal is. The truth is, most “Superfoods” aren’t a whole food, but rather a type of food that you want to incorporate into an overall, well balanced, primarily plant based nutrition approach. You can’t sit down for breakfast and eat a bowl of flaxseeds, but you can add them to your scrambled eggs, yogurt, or oats as a compliment. If you’re able to fit a cup of ground flaxseed into your week (that’s 16 tablespoons worth) you’ll be adding in beneficial phytonutrients that may not change how you feel today, but taken consistently over time will improve your health.
Here’s what you get when you add just one tablespoon of ground to whatever you eat:
- 2.5 grams of healthy fats
- 57mg of potassium
- 2 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of protein
- Plus the minerals iron and calcium
Healthy fats for athletes is nothing new. And any seasoned athlete likely knows that omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation. If you want to become better at what you do and succeed as a Spartan (or in any other sport where quick thinking can is a winning strategy), then here’s another reason to focus on healthy fats from flaxseed.
Omega 3 (found in flaxseed) is an essential fatty acid that found in high concentrations within the brain. These high concentrations are important for cognitive function such as memory and performance. So the next time you’re an hour deep into a 3 hour race, give yourself a pat on the back for getting in your omega-3s and make sure your fellow Spartan hears you when you call out “on your left!”
- 1 cup Flaxseed Meal
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
- 2 teaspoons Chili Powder Mix (Cayenne, Paprika, Chipotle) *optional
- ½ cup Water
- In a bowl, mix ground flax meal and seasonings well.
- Add water and mix till combined with a spatula.
- Cover and set the dough aside for 10 minutes.
- Pre heat oven to 400°F
- Roll out dough between 2 parchment papers as thin as you like. (cooking times will vary according to thickness)
- Gently pull apart parchment paper from each side of the rolled dough onto the other (this is to make sure it does not stick to the paper while baking)
- Place the rolled dough with parchment paper onto a baking sheet and use a pizza cutter to cut into cracker sized pieces.
- Bake chips for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness
- Once chips are baked, turn off the oven, remove and break the crackers. Spread the crackers on the baking tray and return to the oven for another 10 minutes with the oven door slightly opened. (this is to dry it out so it gets crispy)
- Allow crackers to cool completely before storing.
Easy Flaxseed Recipes
Flaxseed Oil Salad Dressing
- 5 tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, just a pinch
- Pepper to taste
- ½ cup Olive oil
- ½ cup Flaxseed Oil (also known as Linseed Oil)
- Whisk all ingredients together in the order listed
- 1 cup rolled oats (or gluten free oats of choice)
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips or bits
- ½ ground flaxseed
- ½ cup chunky nut butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Using your hands, shape into small balls, place onto a cookie sheet with wax paper and place in refrigerator. (These store very well in the freezer for a quick workout fuel)
Easy Flax Granola
- 1-½ cups quick oats
- ½ cup flax seeds plus 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup honey
- 1 tbsp flaxseed oil (olive oil or liquefied coconut oil will work as well)
- ½ cup chopped dates
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In bowl, stir together oats, flax seeds, ground flax, almonds and cinnamon. Keep dates separate
- In separate bowl, stir together honey and oil; pour over dry ingredients and stir to coat.
- Pour onto prepared baking sheet, spreading in thin layer and bake in oven 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. Use hands to break into small pieces. Stir in dates. Store in airtight container.
- 3/4 cup whole wheat or GF bread crumbs (Bonus nutrition: Use ½ cup bread crumbs and ¼ cup hemp hearts)
- 6 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 1/2lbs chicken breast
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Put the bread crumbs (and hemp hearts if using) and flax seeds in a shallow bowl, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Dip each chicken breast in egg, then in the bread crumb mixture, coating thoroughly. Transfer to a baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn chicken breasts over and bake for additional 10 minutes, (or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees). Enjoy with your favorite greens!
Banana Avocado Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana
- ½ Ripe avocado
- 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tbsp flaxseed
- Pinch Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
- Add additional liquid to adjust thickness.