The seeds of the flax plant are in the research spotlight. Because of their fiber, ground flaxseeds have shown promise as a treatment for constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, lessening symptoms significantly more than psyllium fiber. Fiber is also thought to be behind flaxseeds' success in reducing cholesterol levels, and further evidence indicates that flaxseeds might help combat certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancers. Both the seeds and oil contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid similar to those in fish oil that may offer some of the same benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
Choose It & Use It Buy ground flaxseeds (flax meal), or grind seeds in a coffee grinder. Add ground seeds to smoothies, hot cereal, yogurt, or baked items such as veggie meatloaf, bread, and muffins. Mix flaxseed oil into salad dressings, steamed veggies, or cooked rice (avoid cooking with it—high heat destroys its beneficial compounds). Replace each egg in recipes with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water.