By Maureen Lauder
For a teeny tiny seed, the flaxseed sure does pack a punch! Regular consumption of flaxseeds delivers huge quantities of lignans and alpha linolenic acid (not to mention bunches of fiber). Why do we care? Well…
- Alpha linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fat that produces anti-inflammatory effects. This means fewer symptoms of asthma, less arthritis, fewer migraines, and less chance of osteoporosis.
- In the standard American diet, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is skewed. We tend to take in too much omega-6, which promotes inflammation and bone loss. Increased omega-3 consumption (through foods like flaxseeds and walnuts) helps readjust that ratio.
- Omega-3 fats help reduce the formation of blood clots-which means less risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Omega-3 fats also keep cell membranes flexible, enabling better absorption of nutrients and eliminations of waste. There’s no point in extra healthy eating if the nutrients can’t make it all way into your cells, now is there?
- Flaxseeds also do an amazing job of controlling cholesterol. One study found that people who ingested 20 grams (about 2 tablespoons) of ground flaxseeds each day reduced their cholesterol counts at about the same rate as those who took statin drugs.
- Flaxseed also contains high quantities of lignans, which protect against breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Lignans also work to cut off the blood supply to tumors, thus reducing the likelihood of cancerous growth.
- AND, regular flaxseed intake has been shown to reduce dry eyes and minimize hot flashes.
Pretty impressive for a little seed, huh?
And flaxseeds are versatile, too. Flaxseed can be eaten whole or ground (they’re pretty tasty sprinkled on salads or other dishes) or used as a base for raw crackers, breads, and cookies. And flaxseed oil makes for a great salad dressing-light and yummy.
One of my friends makes about the easiest dressing I’ve ever seen using flax oil: she uses a spray bottle to mist oil on the salad, and then seasons it with fresh-ground sea salt and pepper. It’s amazingly good for something so simple!
And if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you might try whipping up a batch of flaxseed crackers. This is an endlessly variable recipe, so use your imagination!
5 Easy Steps to Flaxseed Crackers
- Soak 2-4 cups of flax seeds in an equal amount of water for 8-12 hours. The seeds will get goopy and gelatinous. Don’t worry – that’s what helps your crackers stick together.
- Using a food processor, mix in a bunch of veggies: onion, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, kale, red pepper, whatever rocks your world.
- Add as much or as little seasoning as you like. (Suggestions: lemon juice, Bragg’s or nama shoyu, garlic, cilantro or other fresh herbs.)
- (Or, for a sweet cracker, skip the vegetables and savory seasonings and blend in some fruit–bananas and orange juice, perhaps.)
- Spread as thinly as possible on a Teflex sheet. Sprinkle some salt on top. Dehydrate. Once the crackers have firmed up a bit (after 10-12 hours), flip them over and peel off the Teflex. Continue dehydrating until crispy.
As long as they’re thoroughly dehydrated, these crackers will store (in an airtight container) for months. And they taste delicious with dipped in guacamole or piled with slices of tomato and avocado!