Flaxseed, or linseed as it's commonly called, is an herb with a tall leafy stem. The plant contains blue or white flowers and shiny flattened seeds. Although tiny in size, flaxseeds offer enormous heart-health benefits. In fact, these small golden seeds happen to be one of the most perfect foods for those with blood pressure or cholesterol concerns.
First off, flaxseeds are a fabulous vegetarian source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, which the body can't produce on its own. Omega-3 fats have the critical ability to penetrate layers of cholesterol-laden plaque, reducing blood vessel inflammation and preventing blood-clotting deposits from clogging arteries.
Flaxseeds also contain a significant amount of fiber, which helps to promote regularity. Fiber is also very filling. Many of my patients lost weight (which, in turn, helps lower blood pressure) simply by drinking what I call a "Joe's Flax Shake" daily. Just add two tablespoons of ground organic flaxseeds to 8 to 10 ounces of soy milk. This shake makes a great (and delicious) meal replacement. Plus, when followed with 1 to 2 glasses of water, will diminish your appetite for the next meal.
Filling Up On Flaxseed
When working flax into your daily diet, keep in mind that you must grind the seeds to release the precious flaxseed oil that contains the heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Otherwise, the seeds will pass right through your system undigested. I recommend getting a coffee grinder and dedicating it to flaxseeds, because you don't want to mix ground coffee and flax. Also, you must use flax within hours of grinding it. Once exposed to air, the oil in ground flax goes rancid quickly (which is also why flax oil must be refrigerated).
You can sprinkle ground flax on just about anything, from yogurt to salads. Or mix it into soups, stews, and smoothies. Plus, you can try my recipe for flax mayonaise.