Healthy Heart Nutrition Starts with Flax

Filed Under: Heart Health, Recipes, Food and Nutrition, Beverages
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Pure flax oil is the world's most abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, containing an amazing 55 percent by weight. As such, flax oil offers incredible health benefits that should not be discounted.

Specifically, flax contains alpha linolenic acid, which your liver must break down to form the more commonly known omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. There has been debate about whether alpha linolenic acid effectively converts to EPA and DHA. However, research shows that it does.

Research suggests that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce several cardiovascular problems by helping to promote healthy cholesterol levels, as well as healthy triglycerides. They also help keep blood pressure levels in the normal range. In addition, omega-3s help reduce circulatory problems by supporting healthy circulation and blood flow throughout the body.

One of the best ways to reap these benefits from flax by eating ground flaxseed. And yes, you must grind the seeds to release the oil. Otherwise, they'll pass right through you, undigested. I recommend getting a coffee grinder and dedicating it to flaxseed, because you don't want to mix ground coffee and flax. It's not a taste sensation! Also, you must use the flax within hours of grinding it. Once exposed to air, the oil in ground flax goes rancid quickly. (For the same reason, flax oil must be refrigerated.)

You can sprinkle ground flax on just about anything—soups, stews, ice cream, you name it. Above all, avoid cooking with ground flax, because again, the oil will become rancid.

The beauty of flaxseed is that you get significant amounts of protein and fiber in a tiny package. In a typical 2 oz. serving (1/4 cup), you'll get approximately 11 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein. Exact amounts will vary with the quality of the flaxseed and how it's grown.

Easy Flax Shake

One of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to get your daily flax is to add it to a shake or smoothie. Here’s one of my favorite versions.

1.    Grind up 2 tablespoons of organic flaxseed.
2.    In a blender, add 8 to 10 ounces of chilled soy milk, ½ a banana, 1 cup of your favorite berries, and the freshly ground flaxseed.
3.    Blend well and enjoy!

For more ideas on healthy heart nutrition, visit

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