If you’ve taken a walk down any health foods store then you’ve definitely seen bags of flaxseed. If you’ve opened any newspaper or magazine you’ve seen a few articles about their benefits.
By: Jennifer Pelegreen from EasyHealthySmoothie.com
Flaxseed has lots of great benefits for your health, but…
Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest food to include in your meals or snacks. I could never get myself to like the texture of ground flax and its weird bland taste.
There is one simple way around this though – adding flaxseed to your smoothies! A delicious smoothie easily hides the taste of flax.
Moreover, as a busy person always on the go, I’m constantly looking for easy ways to be healthier. I’ve found smoothies to be perfect for getting my daily dose of flaxseed.
The great thing about smoothies is the ability to quickly and easily consume a whole heap of nutrients in one go.
So, don’t miss out on a really easy way to boost your health and help your fat loss efforts.
Since there’s quite a bit of confusion around how it all works, I wanted to make this in depth guide to show you how best to use flax seed smoothies for weight loss and other health benefits.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
These tiny little seeds pack a lot of punch, nutritionally speaking!
#1 Healthier Heart
Studies have shown that flaxseed (also called linseed) can boost your health in a big way, especially when it comes to heart health.
A 2013 study published in the Hypertension journal found that flaxseed can reduce the potential for developing cardiovascular disease and help to treat it. The same study indicated that it can also regulate blood pressure.
#2 Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels
Research has suggested that flaxseed can decrease levels of LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind you want to have less of!), especially for men.
Many of these heart related benefits come from the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed. In particular, it contains a fatty acid known as Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).
That’s not all …
#3 Helps Your Immune System
The lignans in flaxseed may have antibacterial and antiviral qualities. Making flaxseed a regular part of your diet can therefore have the potential to help you to be ill less often and for colds to be less severe.
#4 Reduces Cancer Risk
2004 research in the Nutrition Journal found that as part of a diet rich in fruits and veggies, flaxseed can make you less likely to get cancer – particularly certain types.
The University of Maryland Medical Center indicated that the lignans in flaxseed may lessen your risk factor for cancers of the prostate, breast and colon.
Here’s a cool video wrapping up why you should eat flaxseed on a daily basis!
Why Flax is Good for Weight Loss
As if the health benefits of flaxseed aren’t enough, here’s yet another reason to love it: it’s your secret weapon when it comes to weight loss!
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flax seeds can help your fat loss efforts.
- Flax is full of fill-you-up fiber and protein to keep you sated. You’ll eat fewer calories and be far less tempted to snack.
- The ALA in flax also reduces inflammation in the body. This is more important than you might think as inflammation makes it harder for your body to lose weight. The less inflammation you have, the more likely you are to lose fat.
What You’ll Need for This Tutorial
In this tutorial, I’m going to share my top tips for making delicious flaxseed smoothies.
Before we get started, you need to get the following:
- Ground Flax seeds
- Whole flax seeds and some means of grinding them
- An Airtight container to store your flax in the refrigerator
How much Flax to add to your smoothie?
You don’t need too much flax in any one go due to the fat content (even though they’re of the healthy kind!). Adding around 1-2 spoons of ground flax seeds to your smoothie is usually enough to get the benefits and the taste.
Ground Vs Non Ground Flax
Flax seeds aren’t that easy to digest and our bodies don’t absorb the full array of nutrients unless they’re ground up first.
You can buy pre-ground flax seeds but grinding your own means you’re getting the freshest possible version, more likely to keep as many nutrients as possible.
How to grind whole flaxseed?
Not all blenders can cope with grinding flaxseed and many people fear for their lower end blenders for this reason.
If you don’t have a high end blender (like a Blendtec or Vitamix) that is capable of grinding flax seeds really quickly and effortlessly, there are a few alternatives you can use instead.
A coffee grinder or spice grinder will pulverize the flax seeds before you blend them. This is what I do every morning and it’s an easy, cost effective option for grinding your flax.
As you can see from the video below, you just add a spoon or two of flax seed to the grinder and let it do its thing for around 10-30 seconds (depending on the type of grinder you have)
Alternatively, a Blendtec twister jar, can do the job really quickly so they’re perfect if you’re pushed for time and need to grind your flax as quickly as possible. It’s an effective method, but not so cheap.
If you’d prefer to have a separate appliance that’s only used for grinding flax, a spice mill may work better for you. These work on a really simple basis; you just twist and the ground flax seed starts to come out.
The reason I’m talking about them last in this section is the time it takes to fully grind the flax this way.
It’s not the quickest option if you don’t have a lot of spare time and it’s much more a manual action on your part compared to blenders, grinders or twister jars.
How coarse or fine should you grind flax?
Once they have been ground up, the flax should be almost like a powder (not too dissimilar to sawdust!)
This is how it looks like when I grind it with my coffee grinder:
With some blenders, you won’t always be able to achieve this kind of consistency but you should have no problems getting to this stage with less than 30 seconds of grinding with most high end blenders and coffee/spice grinders.
Sprouting the Flaxseed
The best way to get the nutrients from flax seed is to consume them in sprouted form.
This is a bit more complicated and time consuming as it involves growing your flax from seeds on a wet vehicle, rather than in the more traditional way of growing seeds.
If you feel like giving it a go yourself, here’s a really simple method:
- You’ll need a terracotta plate. These are widely available from home and garden stores and nurseries. Also buy a bag of flax, preferably the most natural and organic you can find.
- Add a couple of handfuls of your flax seeds to the terracotta plate
- Sprinkle with water until the seeds are thoroughly covered (but not enough that it overflows the plate)
- Leave them for a few days and they should start sprouting!
- It’s important not to let them dry out so you’ll need to keep spritzing them with water until they’re ready to harvest
Here’s a tutorial video on how to sprout your own flaxseed using just the water and a terracotta plate method
…and in case you were wondering, this is how it looks like if you leave it to grow one week more:
You can get some of the benefits of flaxseeds by using flaxseed oil in your smoothies.
Just be aware that while flaxseed oil does contain ALA, it doesn’t have the fiber that you’ll find in whole flax so it won’t provide all of the health or weight loss benefits that you’d expect from flaxseed.
For a complete alternative, you can try chia seeds instead. These are also a good source of protein and fiber, and also contain calcium. The soluble fiber in chia seeds can also reduce cholesterol and help you to feel fuller.
Unlike flax, you don’t need to grind chia seeds – just soak them first and you’re good to go!
Step By Step Guide
1. Add Your Choice of Fruit or Vegetables
Flaxseed can have a slightly nutty taste but it’s largely neutral so it goes well with a lot of fruits and in green smoothies.
A lot will come down to your personal tastes when you’re deciding which ingredients to use in flaxseed smoothies.
Whichever you choose, you’re probably going to have to do some preparation before you can blend them, such as chopping into pieces.
2. Add the Flax
After this, it’s time to add the flax into the equation.
It’s important to include the flax before you get to the blending stage so that it can be evenly distributed in the smoothie mixture.
Otherwise, you risk it being concentrated in certain areas and this can affect both the taste and texture of your smoothie – usually for the worse!
Don’t forget you’ll need to grind the flax seeds before they go into the blender, as I explained above.
3. Add Your Base Liquid
You can use a few different liquids as the base for flaxseed smoothies, including water, milk, nut milk and coconut water. They all go well with flax so its down to your taste preferences.
Now you’re good to start whipping up your smoothie in the blender!
Just blend until smooth. The flax would mix well and slightly thicken the texture of the smoothie.
P.S. If your smoothies have a tendency to be not quite right, check out my beginner’s cheat sheet with tips on how to make the perfect smoothie!
Flaxseed Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss and a Healthy Boost
Now for the really fun part – those all important recipes to help you make the most of flaxseeds!
If you’re wondering what flaxseed will taste like in your smoothies, you’ll get a slight nutty hit by adding ground flaxseed to the mixture. It also thickens up the smoothie’s texture.