Even if you're not the type of person who follows nutritional trends, you've likely heard of a gluten-free diet. In this diet, people avoid gluten, a protein that occurs naturally in certain foods such as wheat. Some people have an intolerance to gluten, while others simply want to skip foods that contain this protein as part of a weight-loss plan. If you're a member of either group, flax seeds are safe to include in your diet.
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Flax Seeds Basics
Flax seeds are brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped appearance with pointy tips. They're slightly larger than sesame seeds and are chewy. In addition to whole flax seeds, you can often find ground flax seeds and flaxseed oil at the supermarket. You wouldn't likely eat flax seeds on their own, but can add them to baked goods or even sprinkle them on a salad to provide not only increased nutritional value, but also some visual appeal.
Safe on a Gluten-Free Diet
Because flax seeds do not contain gluten, they are an acceptable addition to your gluten-free diet. Many gluten-free breads and other baked goods contain flax seeds, as do products that do contain gluten. Just because you see flax seeds on a loaf of bread at the supermarket, don't automatically assume that the bread is gluten free. Always read food labels to determine if a food is free of gluten.
Ideal for Many Meals
Incorporating flax in all its forms can help you increase the variety of your gluten-free diet. Flax is conducive to breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether you do your own baking or just add the seeds to your cereal or a gluten-free pancake mix. Because whole flax seeds might be difficult for your body to digest, using the ground version of the seed maximizes your nutrient absorption. Flaxseed oil can serve as a foundation for homemade salad dressings.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Eating flax seeds regularly provides a healthy dose of fiber. A high-fiber diet can play a role in your overall health by reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes, while also helping you have regular bowel movements. Adults should eat between 25 and 38 grams of fiber per day for optimal health. One tablespoon of whole flax seeds provides 2.8 grams of total fiber, while the same amount of ground flax seeds has 1.9 grams of fiber.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: What is Gluten-Free? FDA Has an Answer
- Eat Right Ontario: Find Out About Flax Seeds
- Canadian Celiac Association: Acceptability of Grains and Other Foods
- Gluten-Free Diet: Incorporating Flax into the Gluten-Free Diet
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Total Water and Macronutrients
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Seeds, Flaxseed
- Gluten-Free Living: The Basic Diet (What I Can Eat)