How to be healthy when you hate eating fish

IMG_4907 (1)For years now, people have understood that eating fish 3 times a week is a way to protect your heart. The omega-3 fatty acids (heart healthy fats) in the fish have been shown to potentially lower blood cholesterol. This is the healthy fat found in abundance in fish, especially salmon, mackerel, anchovy, sardine, haddock and white albacore tuna. What if you don’t like fish? Not everyone does. The answer to the “I hate fish” dilemma is to add flax seed to the menu instead.
Flax seed is from the flax plant (Linum Usitatissimum). The seeds of the flax plant have a great amount of alpha linolenic-acids. These acids are the heart healthy plant form of omega-3 fatty acids (and no fishy taste or smell).
Flax seed has been proven to have a heart health benefit. Studies have shown that flax seed can reduce your risk of heart attack by lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol), lowering blood triglycerides, keeping platelets from becoming sticky, as well as lowering blood pressure. Flax seeds are also a rich source of fiber and lignans, which can help with keeping the digestive system healthy. Also, you can find a good amount of conjugated linolenic-acid (CLA) in flax seeds; these are naturally existing plant chemicals known to possibly boost the immune system and potentially decrease fat deposits in your body. Not bad for something that doesn’t swim.
Flax seed comes in a variety of forms. Not all the types are worth the investment. Human beings do not have the ability to break down the hull or shell of the whole flax seed. Therefore, if you eat the flax seed whole, it will go in and come out whole; having done nothing for your health. Flax seed that has been milled or ground is the ideal form to buy in order to reap the health benefits. It will be labeled as “milled flax seed” or “ground flax seed” or “flax seed meal”. The plant chemicals that promote health are in the hull of the seed. When the whole seed is broken down by a machine and subsequently added to your foods, your body can access it – this is the best form for you to get the flax seed. When the oil is taken from the flax seed, there is no guarantee that there are hull particles in it. If you use the flaxseed oil, you may not see any health benefits at all.
So, what does it taste like? Ground flax seeds have a slight nutty or earthy flavor. Many people report that it doesn’t really have any flavor at all. When ground, flax seeds appear to be a cross between a grain and a flake.
It is recommended that you have 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed a day. So, what do you do with it? See below for some ways to add ground flax seed to your day:
Ways to put flax seeds on the menu
– Sprinkle 1- 2 tbsp. on top of hot cereal such as oatmeal or cold cereal
– Use instead of eggs in baked goods (1 tbsp. of ground flax seed plus 3 tablespoons of water, let stand 5 minutes before use = one whole egg)
– Replace some fat in baking (3 tbsp. ground flax seed = 1 tbsp. fat)
– Substitute for flour (1 tbsp. ground flax seed = 1 tbsp. flour)
– Shake on top of dough and batter before baking for added crunch
Stir 1- 2 tsp. into any condiment/gravy/dressing/topping (e.g. stir into mayonnaise before you make up chicken salad or add to peanut butter before you make a PB & J)
– Stir a tbsp. of ground flax into a yogurt, smoothie, soup, or freshly juiced vegetable/fruit drink
Since flax seeds contain a fat, they can become rancid. You will know if it has gone bad because it will have a sour taste and/or smell. To protect your purchase, store flax seeds in the refrigerator, in a container with a tight fitting lid. Purchase it in small amounts (no more than one pound) as it spoils quickly.
When it comes to healthy eating, it is easiest to find small ways to tweak your foods instead of making monumental changes. Consider using this small addition to your foods daily, making your plate more heart healthy without a fin in sight.
Jennifer Giffune, R.D., L.D.N. is a freelance author, professional speaker and nutrition counselor. On the last Wednesday of each month, Jennifer can be heard on 89.5 WSKB radio on the “Wake up Wednesday Morning” Show. To make an appointment with Jennifer at Mercy Medical Group, call 786-1500.

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