Health Lift: How to use flaxseed and nutritious benefits

Chocolate Chip and Cherry Granola Bars with flaxseed. Photo by York Daily Record/Sunday News — Leigh Zaleski.

For as long as I’ve been interested in healthy living, I have dealt with the occasional health rut. Illness or life changes sometimes throw off my diet and exercise routine.

I hate when it happens, but I’ve learned to accept these times as necessary. If my body can’t physically handle working out, then I can’t do it. If I don’t have my usual appetite for vegetables, so be it.

However, I’m constantly cognizant of the place I want to be: healthy, being active, eating right and feeling good. But sometimes, I just need to be patient.

For the last month or so, I’ve faced some challenging health problems that affected my sleep, concentration and energy level, and lowered my appetite. By the time I found the right help to address the issues, my body and mind still needed time to recoup.

I’m still working toward recovering, but I’m reintroducing my healthier habits day by day. In times such as this, I find nothing more motivating than giving my lifestyle — and health — a face lift.

During the next several months, I plan to try — and write about — new nutritious foods and workout routines. There’s no better way to rejuvenate yourself, and my healthy-living mainstays are due for an upgrade.

And when life derails your wellness routine, remember it’s only a brief stop on your mission to good health.

Health Boost No. 1: Flaxseed

I bought a bag of flaxseed from Sonnewald Natural Foods during the summer, and I never got around to using it. It’s one of those foods that I needed to google before using because I had no idea how to incorporate it. Turns out, it’s pretty easy.

First, let’s talk about the health benefits. According to WebMD, it’s one of the most powerful plant foods and can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes — which are among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

Health benefits

Flaxseed owes its wholesome notoriety to the following components.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids: Each tablespoon contains 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s, good fats that have been shown to boost heart health.

Lignans: The seeds contain 75 to 800 times more plant estrogen and antioxidants than other plant foods.

Fiber: It packs both soluable and insoluable. Soluable fiber dissolves in water and helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluable fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Overall, high-fiber foods help people maintain a healthy weight because because they take longer to chew, which gives your body time to recognize that you’re no longer hungry. Also, high-fiber diets make you feel full longer.

Put it to use

You can add a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your cereal, oatmeal or smoothies. Or you can substitute flaxseed meal for eggs or partially for flour in baking. Two tablespoons has 75 calories, 6 grams of fat, about 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fiber.

Chocolate Chip and Cherry Granola Bars

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter or canola oil, plus some to grease pan
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 9-by-9-inch pan with butter.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add oats and stir for about six or seven minutes until toasted.
3. Pour oats into a bowl. Add cinnamon, flaxseed and salt. Wipe pan clean.
4. Mix honey, brown sugar and vanilla in saucepan until mixture boils for about five minutes.
5. Pour mixture into bowl and mix. Allow ingredients to cool for about five minutes, and add chocolate chips and cherries.
6. Spread evenly into pan and bake for about 20 minutes. The granola bars should be chewy.
7. Allow them to cool, and cut them into 16 pieces.

Serving: One piece
Nutrition information: 124 calories, 19 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 2 grams protein

Leigh Zaleski

I'm a health features reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and healthy living blogger for No Sweat, York. Contact me with story ideas at lzaleski@ydr.com, 717-771-2101 or @leighzaleski on Twitter.

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1 Response

  1. December 3, 2012

    […] add it to the mixture. Allow dressing to sit for 30 minutes to develop flavors. More Health Lifts Meet flaxseed […]

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