Flax seeds have become popular among the health food crowd in recent years due to their versatility and abundance of nutritional benefits. But the fact of the matter is that just about anyone can easily incorporate flax seeds into their diet and reap the benefits of this nutritional powerhouse.
Flax seeds are small but mighty and can be used in a variety of ways. If you’re considering adding flax seeds to your diet but are feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need to worry! There are plenty of simple ways to try flax seeds, but there’s one method that is my absolute favorite.
Flax seeds in coffee! A little unexpected, right? But it’s actually a delicious way to boost your coffee’s flavor and nutritional value.
Now there is one caveat here… flax seeds themselves cannot just be mixed into coffee on their own and be expected to dissolve nicely into your beverage. The key to adding flax seeds to your coffee is grinding the seeds first. From there, you can add water to it to form a paste, mix it with milk or creamer, or top your beverage off with a sprinkling of ground flax seeds.
What are flax seeds?
Flax seeds are produced by a plant called, you guessed it, flax. Flax is an annual plant identified by five petals that are typically blue, white, or pink. Flax plants are either grown for their seeds or for their fibers, which are used to create linens. Flax grown for harvesting seeds is typically shorter and has an abundance of branches, while fiber derived from flax is taken from the stalk. Flax is grown around the world, including in Canada, China, and Russia.
Flax seeds and their benefits go way back in recorded history, all the way to Hippocrates, who noted their use as a laxative. Today, flax seed is popular for its nutritional and health benefits, including for intestinal disorders and cardiovascular issues.
Nutritional benefits of flax seeds
If you’re not sold on flax seeds just yet, consider the fact that they are loaded with all sorts of nutritional benefits that you won’t find just anywhere.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Flax seeds are rich with omega-3 fatty acids, specifically, alpha-linolenic acid, which is great for heart health.
Fiber and protein
Flax seeds are packed with fiber and protein, which many of us struggle to get enough of in our diets. Fiber is great for helping to keep us feeling full, among other health benefits as well, including lowering cholesterol, keeping blood sugars steady, and reducing the risk for heart disease.
I was unfamiliar with this one, but lignans are incredibly beneficial, especially as we age. Not only do they have antioxidant properties, but they can help lower the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. I’m sure we could all use a bit more lignans in our diets, myself included!
What do flax seeds taste like?
Flax seeds have a delightful nutty flavor that adds a hint of its signature taste to a dish or beverage, without being overpowering. You may come across flax seeds that are either golden or brown. They both taste relatively the same, though some find the brown variety to have a bit more of an earthy flavor.
Why grind flax seeds?
As it turns out, our bodies can’t break down whole flax seeds on their own. Instead, they end up just passing through our systems and we reap none of their benefits. Seems like a big waste to me!
One thing to keep in mind while shopping for flax seeds is that while ground flax seeds are preferred for most uses, they have a shorter shelf-life than the whole seed. It might be worth buying the whole seed and grinding a bit at a time to get the most bang for your buck.
If you can’t find ground flax seeds or prefer to buy the whole seed, there are plenty of ways to grind the whole seed yourself at home, including:
- Coffee grinder
- Spice grinder
- Flax mill
- Mortar and pestle
Why add flax seeds to coffee?
Adding flax seeds to your coffee is a really simple way to add protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet before your day has even really begun! If you take your morning brew at the same time every day, it’s incredibly easy to add this superfood into your routine without really even having to think about it. Ground flax seeds can be mixed into hot or cold coffee, just be sure to give it a good stir to make sure it doesn’t all sink to the bottom.
Flax seed alternatives
If you happen to run out of flax seeds or don’t have any on hand, there are similar ingredients out there that can be substituted for flax seeds for some uses, such as:
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
Keep in mind that they may not behave exactly like flax seeds, so adding them to coffee could require a different process. But generally speaking, they are a good alternative if you find yourself in a bind.
What else can flax seeds be used for?
You don’t have to stop at just adding flax seeds to your coffee. If you find yourself enjoying the benefits of consuming flax seeds, you’ll love how many other ways they can be prepared and eaten.
Baked goods are one very popular way to add some of those nutritional benefits to sometimes not-so-healthy treats. For instance, you could try zucchini, banana, and flax seed muffins, oatmeal-flax chocolate chip cookies, or banana flax bread.
Flax seeds can even be used in savory meals like flax-boosted meatloaf and almond-and-flax-crusted fish.
No matter your preference, there’s a recipe for anyone whose looking to add more of all the good stuff flax seeds have to offer to their diet. Whether you end up loving it in your coffee or one of the tons of other recipes out there, flax seeds aren’t just a fad. I’d say they’re here to stay!