Q:I've seen a lot lately about using flax seeds to help with weight. Does this work? Is there anything I can eat instead?
Flax seeds contain essential oils which help the stomach retain food and slows the digestive process. This helps you to feel fuller as the food releases into the small intestine more slowly. This can increase satiety (satisfaction) as well.
Another theory about why flax is effective is that when you eat foods that do not satisfy your bodys nutritional requirements, your body will crave more food (regardless of the quantity you ate). Ground flax seeds contain essential fatty acids EFAs which can only be obtained from foods. When you eat, your body looks for EFAs for cellular health. If you do not eat these EFAs, you may begin to crave more fatty foods. So, when you eat a small amount of flax with meals or snacks, it can help decrease craving for other fatty foods.
Flax is best eaten in freshly ground form as the body does not fully break down whole flax seeds. If you see a product that contains whole flax seeds, the real benefit will be roughage as it passes through your digestive tract. Grind it for maximum benefit.
Everyone has different nutritional needs, but current recommendation is 1-2 Tablespoons max per day. If you are eating other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, you may want to consume less. If you decide to try flax seeds, start slowly as adding them too quickly can cause flatulence and bloating.
Flax seeds taste great in smoothies and have a nutty flavor. They also taste great on top of cottage cheese or in yogurt.
If you would like other sources of omega 3, here are some other options:
- Tuna (fresh)
- Fortified eggs
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brussels sprouts