The “fantastic flax”, as I like to call it, has gained the attention of many health enthusiasts recently. Wondering why? Well, many studies have proved that flaxseeds can optimize our overall health. They can also relieve menopause symptoms in their own “little” ways!
For thousands of years, flaxseeds have been used to add flavor to many Mediterranean dishes. Now, more and more women are falling in love with flaxseeds as a flavorful ingredient in the kitchen! Want to dive right in and discover the wonders of flaxseeds? Let’s do this! ?
Flaxseeds: What Are They and How Do They Taste?
Flaxseeds or “linseeds” are from the flax plant — a food and fiber crop found primarily in Southern Europe, Middle East and Asian regions. Nowadays, flax is available in the form of seeds, oils, powder, tablets, capsules and flour!
These seeds are golden-yellow or reddish-brown that somehow look like sesame seeds. Both flaxseed types are excellent sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or omega-3. Flaxseeds are also packed with lignans, antioxidants, fiber and protein!
Like many seeds, flaxseeds have a slightly nutty flavor, so they’re ideal for sweet and savory dishes! Most people find reddish-brown flaxseeds to be stronger in flavor than the golden-yellow seeds. But try it for yourself because the taste is in the tongue of the beholder! ? Stay right there because further down, you will learn many kitchen ideas on how to use these shiny, shimmery seeds!
Moreover, flaxseeds have been linked to benefits like improved digestion and a reduced risk of cardiovascular and chronic diseases. So, let’s dig a little deeper into what flaxseeds can bring for our midlife health!
What are the Benefits of Flaxseeds for Menopausal Women?
Besides the fact that flaxseeds are “small but incredible” in nutrient content, flaxseeds contain the highest amount of adaptogens. This is where most of flaxseeds benefits for menopausal women come from!
Wait, what are “adaptogens” again? ?
Adaptogens work on many pathways tied to our body’s ability to regulate estrogen. Typically, adaptogens work directly with our body’s endocrine system, specifically the pituitary gland, to produce more hormones naturally.
You may ask, how exactly do flaxseeds work as “adaptogens”?
Well, estrogen is primarily produced by our ovaries. However, when we reach menopause, our ovaries can no longer produce estrogen in optimal amounts. The pituitary gland (found in the brain) has control over other endocrine glands, including the ovaries. In this case, the pituitary gland needs to be stimulated for it to send signals to the ovary to produce more estrogen. You see, this whole “teamwork” inside our body is very important for us in menopause, because if we had a “brand”, it would be “hormonal fluctuations”. ?
Now, the adaptogens in flaxseeds can act as “estrogen amplifiers” or “estrogen blockers”, depending on what our body needs. Yup… Such a unique ability! This explains why flaxseeds have been used for a wide scale of women’s health issues!
The benefits of flaxseeds can specifically cater to menopausal and postmenopausal women by naturally raising estrogen levels. Menstruating women who struggle with too much “xenoestrogens” can also benefit hugely from flaxseeds!
Dana LaVoie, a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, believes that flaxseeds are one of the most excellent superfoods we should add to our diet. As mentioned earlier, flaxseeds are packed with lignans, which are vital for hormonal balance! Listen to Dana as she elaborates more about flaxseeds! ?
Because of the nutrients and adaptogenic features of flaxseeds, many women (both with too much and too little estrogen) consume this potent seed! Among the top benefits of consuming flaxseeds are:
- Helps with estrogen dominance
- Contains anti-inflammatory agents
- Prevents constipation and digestive problems
- Promotes cardiovascular health
- Improves the health of skin and hair
- Relieves hot flashes and night sweats
- Relieves symptoms of PMS (including bloating, body pain, mood swings
- Better sleep quality
- More regular periods
- Reduces risk and growth of estrogenic cancers
- Weight loss
Despite these proven health benefits, some people think that flaxseeds may be harmful because they think the seeds are “estrogenic”. The typical belief when something is “estrogenic” is that it can cause cancers and hormonal problems in women. But this is not the case for flaxseeds!
As mentioned above, flaxseeds contain “lignans”, which can be consumed for a longer term without causing many side effects. Plus, the effect is more natural with the adaptogens!
Adaptogens also boost testosterone levels, which is vital for women struggling with hormonal conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, cysts or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
On the other hand, some skincare products contain parabens and phthalates. These preservatives are “estrogenic” and have been linked to cancers. Therefore, you should never be exposed to them! ?
Ready to keep going? Up next are exciting kitchen ideas using flaxseeds! Read on so you can finally add this wonder seed to your diet!
Kitchen Ideas Using Flaxseeds
If you search “flaxseed” on the Internet, you’ll be surprised to know how many people ask “how to use flaxseeds”. To save you some time, here are kitchen ideas using flaxseeds from the “Culinary Scientist” Jessica Gavin! ?
→ Smoothies: For a morning jumpstart, add a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseeds to your healthy smoothie or shake. Your day just got a little healthier!
→ Salads: Drizzle some flaxseed oil over your leafy greens or add some ground seeds as a last-minute topping! If you like, switch out olive oil and make a vinaigrette out of flaxseed oil!
→ Thickener: Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains in recipes, especially baked ones. That’s because flax is more easily metabolized!
→ Egg Substitute: Replace eggs in a recipe using finely ground flaxseeds! Use one tablespoon of flaxseeds and three tablespoons of water combined to replace one egg. The seeds have a gelatinous quality that emulsifies like the way an egg would!
→ Wraps: You can replace a tortilla wrap with a flaxseed wrap! Here’s a video from Nutrition Refined showing how to make a flaxseed wrap!
More quick and healthy wraps here! ? Quick and Healthy Wraps to Keep You On the Go
Some facts about flaxseed oil…
Flaxseed oil is the extracted oil from the seed. It’s best used in recipes that require low to no heat because the oil is considered “very reactive” once they are exposed to oxygen, heat and light. Additionally, Dr. Sten Ekberg, an advocate for holistic living, thinks that it’s wiser to go for flaxseeds instead of flaxseed oil for the following reasons:
- Flaxseeds retain more nutrients — healthy fats, protein and fiber
- Flaxseeds are sold at a more friendly price
- Flaxseed oil is poorly converted into a type of fatty acid that our body needs
For a more detailed discussion, here’s Dr. Ekberg’s video as he explains why it’s best to go for flaxseeds! ?
A Couple More Tips in Using Flaxseeds
If you still didn’t get enough of all the good news you’ve heard from the fantastic flaxseeds, here are more tips to maximize the awesomeness of flaxseeds!
- Since whole flaxseeds can’t be fully digested by the body, they must be ground up before you eat them. There are many ways to do this! You can grind the flaxseeds using a coffee grinder, spice mill, high-powered blender, food processor or the classic mortar and pestle! Remember to grind just what you need because ground flaxseeds may spoil your dish quickly!
- Generally, ground flaxseeds, flaxseed meal and flaxseed oil are all sensitive and can degrade with prolonged exposure to light or heat. So, make sure to look for a “cloudy” or dark packaging when buying. Also, read the recommended “use by” dates on the labels!
- Ideally, flaxseeds should be used or eaten as soon as possible once they are ground. But for a little hack (and do this only if you have to), Dr. Ekberg recommends to put the ground flaxseeds in a resealable storage bag and store it in the freezer!
- Flaxseeds are great for seasoning your cast iron pans in the kitchen! When you expose flaxseed oil to high heat, it creates a durable layer of seasoning that other oils don’t provide. There’s a precise method that requires heating your pan before adding any oil. Learn more through this step-by-step guide from Cooks Illustrated!
- In the mood for style? Use flaxseeds as hair gel! You can use it like how you would use any other hair gel… just be ready to go a little gooey! It’s best to scoop out small amounts at a time or the mixture can end up everywhere. Simply apply the gel to your hair as a styler and you are ready to conquer the world in style! Check out this video from Brenda Blanco as she shares exciting ways to make a flaxseed gel!
And if you’re intrigued about the actual effects of using flaxseed gel on Brenda’s hair, here’s her 7-day documentation to reveal some “before-and-after” proof!
With the high amounts of nutrients in flaxseeds, there is no doubt that it is a superstar for our midlife health! And it doesn’t just end there… Versatility is indeed flaxseeds’ signature! So, give these super seeds a try and embrace the benefits they can provide — inside and outside the kitchen! ?
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