Has anyone ever told you to add flaxseed to your smoothies? Did it make you wonder, "What's so great about flaxseed?"
The oil in flaxseeds is a major nutritional powerhouse, and it can provide a myriad of performance benefits. Don't know much about flaxseed oil? Let's start with the basics.
What is flaxseed oil?
Flaxseeds are oval, flat-shaped seeds that have a crispy, chewy texture and a nutty flavor. When they are ground, the oil within them is released with the nutrients stored inside. Flaxseed oil is bottled and sold. It can be used for dressings, but not for cooking, because it smells rancid when heat destroys its essential fatty acids. It needs to be kept in a cool dry place (i.e., the refrigerator) because it can go bad quickly.
How can flaxseed oil benefit me?
Flaxseed oil has the highest omega-3 content of all oils. It consists of 50- to 60-percent alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is converted in the body to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA aid in reducing inflammation, thereby decreasing muscle soreness and swelling. A growing body of research has explored the idea that EPA can also increase protein metabolism by restoring insulin sensitivity. This may improve fat burning and inhibit fat storage, but more research is needed.
Overall, flaxseed oil is a great way to take in more omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ALA, but it should not be used as a replacement for fish oil. It's best to consume a variety of food sources of omega 3 fatty acids, including fish and flaxseed oil. Although little evidence supports the proposition that flaxseed oil can increase protein metabolism, it can be a healthy strategy to reduce saturated fats in the diet by incorporating flaxseed oil in your dressings or even adding it to smoothies.
Still having trouble figuring out how to incorporate flaxseed oil into your diet? Here's an easy flaxseed oil dressing to try on your next salad.
Flaxseed oil with herbs dressing
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons flaxseed oil
- pinch of cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper
In a blender or food processor, combine lemon juice, chives, parsley, basil, oregano and garlic and blend until smooth. Slowly add oil in a fine stream and blend until slightly creamy. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock