So Tiny and So Powerful

 

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Each month I happily publish a healthy living column in my neighborhood's magazine, Kingsbury Living.

We have a fabulous community and I am grateful to share my experiences and expertise with dear neighbors and fellow friends. Take a peak below to view May's article, "So Tiny and So Powerful."

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For three years in a row, my cholesterol numbers were high. High enough that my doctor recommended a prescription medication at year two and was adamant by year three. I was not overweight and had fairly good lifestyle habits, so my doctor reasoned it was most likely a genetic issue. However, I wasn’t quite sure that I had done enough to lower my cholesterol on my own, and I went to work researching other options. I found two possibilities: flaxseed and cardio exercise. Since I hate to run and love to eat, I decided to try the flax. Not only did I solve my high cholesterol and avoid the side-effects of a prescription, I discovered a tasty and nutritional powerhouse packed into a tiny seed.

Flaxseed contains both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is thought to aid in lowering cholesterol, by preventing its absorption within the body. This concept seemed too easy. I am a firm believer of experimenting health recommendations on myself and seeing if it works for me. I call these “studies of one.” Before you try it out for yourself, here’s the lowdown:

 

Grind First

The key thing to know about eating flaxseed is that you need to grind it before you eat it. Nothing bad will happen if you ingest the whole seeds, but our bodies can’t naturally digest all the nutrition bound within the seed. To get the health benefits, you have to grind whole flax seed in a small spice or coffee grinder. I use a grinder called The Nutritionist made by Salton (see picture). Unfortunately, they don’t make these anymore, which totally bums me out as mine is showing signs of old age.

Grind As Needed

Only grind what you plan to eat immediately. Flaxseed tends to spoil quickly once it’s ground. If you need the convenience factor, pre-ground flaxseed meal is available at the store. However, the benefits are not as great and it can go rancid a few weeks after opening the package.

Ways to Enjoy

My favorite way to eat flax is in yogurt. Every morning, I have plain yogurt with chopped apples and ground flaxseed. You can add ground flaxseed to muffin or pancake batter, as well as to bread dough. Blend ground flaxseed into smoothies, or use it to top hot or cold cereal. I have recently learned that you can also use ground flaxseed as a substitute for eggs in baked recipes: 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, plus 3 tablespoons water, is equal to 1 egg.

Other Health Benefits

Two tablespoons of flaxseed has nearly 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, plus plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and brain-boosting vitamin B1. Flaxseed is also known to relieve constipation—just make sure to drink plenty of water.

If any of you have high cholesterol, I highly recommend that you do a “study of one.” You can find flaxseed at Mustard Seed, Earthfare, and Giant Eagle. As always, I would love to hear if it works for you, as well as answer any questions you may have at juli@julihicks.com.