Health

Flaxseeds Are Packed With Healthy Perks — But You’re Probably Eating Them Wrong

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Flaxseeds have become a trendy ingredient in things like baked goods and as crunchy salad toppers, and we really aren’t surprised. The little pods are packed with plenty of benefits, especially when it comes to some of the most frustrating menopause symptoms — but there’s a chance you’ve been eating them wrong all this whole time.

First, let’s unpack those perks: Each teeny flaxseed is full of omega fatty acids. The anti-inflammatory omega-3’s are particularly great at helping maintain healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, and boost brain health, too. If this sounds familiar, it’s because you can also get that same nutrition from flaxseed oil (which is also great drizzled on salads or added to smoothies). 

Unlike the oil form, though, fresh flaxseeds contains phytoestrogens, or plant-based estrogen which acts exactly like the same estrogen we produce in our bodies. One study from 2014 found that phytoestrogens helped ease menopausal hot flashes, while an earlier study from 2011 claimed they were able to prevent bone loss. More research is needed on the subject, but these results show a lot of promise for women hoping to tame their hormones during all the stages of menopause. Of course, you shouldn’t overdo it by consuming a ton of flaxseed — as with anything else, there can always be too much of a good thing. You should also consider consulting your doctor before adding more of this superfood to your diet if you’re specifically hoping for menopause relief. 

Now, what’s the best way to get all of that goodness? According to the Mayo Clinic, you should actually be grinding or chopping flaxseeds up before adding them to any meal, not tossing them in whole. Don’t worry, you haven’t hurt yourself by eating them like that in the past. It’s just more difficult for your body to actually absorb any of the healthy perks while still hidden away inside the shells. The foodies over at Bon Appétit recommend using a spice or coffee grinder to get the job done easily and quickly.

That might sound like an expensive investment for flaxseeds, but you can find budget-friendly options like the KF2020 Electric Coffee Grinder ($19.50, Amazon). Just be sure to only grind exactly as much as you want for each recipe — any leftovers will spoil quickly once ground up. That’s also why grabbing a bag of pre-ground flaxseed can backfire if you don’t eat it all fast enough. However, you can keep the whole seeds fresh for about a year while stored in a cool, dry place, and grab what you need when you want to add the nutty, earthy flavor to your meals. Plus, the seeds themselves are pretty cheap, like 365 Everyday Value, Organic Brown Flaxseed ($2.99, Amazon), so you won’t find yourself constantly breaking the bank to add the nutritious ingredient to your food and drinks. 

Even though you do need to take the extra step to chop or grind your flaxseed, all of the delicious health perks in the li’l pods are totally worth it!

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