See these seeds? Do you know what they are? If not, YOU NEED TO.
These are chia and flax seeds, two incredibly healthy seeds that I and many other health professionals recommend you eat on a daily basis. In this blog, we will be discussing the health benefits along with ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Let's start with CH-CH-CH-CHIA
That's right, these are the same funny seeds that people once grew into funny chia pets (or do people still do that?)
So why do I advocate you eat them rather than grow them?
Chia seeds are extremely high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of plant-based iron and calcium, two minerals that can be a little rarer to find on a plant-based diet.
You can eat chia seeds sprinkled onto something, but they are probably most beneficial health-wise if eaten after being mixed into a liquid (such as in oatmeal or chia pudding) or when ground. This enables your body to better absorb the omega-3's found in this little nutrient powerhouse.
According to research, including some ground chia seeds in your diet every day may lead to weight loss. But unfortunately, there isn't much other research touting the benefits of chia seeds. Rest assured though that they are full of soluble fiber, which may not only benefit cholesterol levels, but also aid in digestion, and fuel your good bacteria.
Here's how to use them!
Add them to smoothies or plant-based yogurt
Make chia pudding by adding 2 tbsp of chia into 3/4 cup of milk and additional flavorants like chocolate, peanut butter, blended fruit, or even mint extract!
Use them as an egg substitute in baking by adding 1 tbsp of whole seeds or ground chia seeds to 3 tbsp of water.
Sprinkle on toast, oatmeal, or salads.
Note: Chia seeds can be used whole, no need to grind them, although grinding them may be useful in making a chia egg.
Now, while I believe chia is a useful addition to a plant-based diet, and suggest you use it on a daily or even just weekly basis, I will 100% recommend flax seed as something we all should be eating every day.
Fantastic Mr. Flax
Flax seeds are becoming more and more recognized for their positive health benefits. For example, research indicated that eating flaxseeds on a daily basis worked even better than anti-hypertensive medications, without any of the side effects.
Flax may also be anti-inflammatory and reduce the effects of aging.
Flax has been shown to improve fasting blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C in people with diabetes.
Wondering if there are gender-specific benefits? Flax contains the pre-cursors to lignans (converted into lignans by the gut bacteria), which may explain why daily consumption is linked with less prostate and breast cancer, and can even be used in the treatment of these cancers.
Flax oil was even shown to positively improve sensitive skin.
With all these benefits, you can probably see why I'm recommending you add them to your diet daily (no offence, but especially if you are middle-aged, struggling with a chronic disease like hypertension, or have risk factors for cancer).
Here's how to use them! (Make sure they are ground, as whole flaxseeds just pass right through).
Add 1 tbsp of ground flax to a bowl of oatmeal, or even just sprinkle onto a bowl of cereal
Add ground flax into a smoothie
Add ground flax into pancake or waffle batter
Use flax as an egg substitute in baking muffins, cookies, and brownies
Add into regular dinner meals, you won't notice it.
As a last resort, mix into a glass of water and just drink it!
Note: You can buy pre-gorund flax seed in the grocery store, which I would recommend keeping in the refrigerator or freezer and using within a year as the oils will begin to break down. Alternatively, you can buy a $10 coffee grinder and keep it on hand to grind flax as you need it. To help whole flax last longer, you can keep the whole seeds in the fridge or freezer as well.
Want some recipes to help you eat more chia and flax? Try these below:
Flax Seed and Peanut Butter Energy Bars by The Healthy Toast.
Chia and Flax Granola by Colleen Christensen Nutrition
Carrot Apple Vegan Muffins by The Natural Nurturer
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding by Whitney E. RD
Easy Chia Jam by The Plant-Forward RD
Super Seed Oatmeal by Whitney E. RD
Green Pancakes by The Plant-Forward RD
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Wondering what "evidence-based restorative nutrition" is? I'm committed to giving you evidence-based nutrition advice that helps your body return to its natural most healthful way of functioning. Let's restore your health together!