By Sarah Axtell, ND • July 24, 2014
Need a boost? Top your food with these items and turn your food from just so-so to super!
1. Ground flax seed- Add 1-2 tbsps to your favorite soups, salads, sauces, yogurt, oatmeal and cereal. Grind them in a coffee grinder to get the super health benefits!
Flaxseeds can be considered a “Super Food” for their high content of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (Mayo Clinic, 2009). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential. In other words, the human body cannot synthesize them so they must be obtained from the diet. They are involved in many physiologic processes, and a deficiency of them is a factor is many chronic conditions. (Mahan and Stump, 2004).
Flaxseeds can be readily found in the grocery store as whole seeds, ground seeds, and mixed into other various foods, such as crackers, breads, muffins, and cereals. Whole flaxseeds pass right through one’s digestive tract, acting as a source of fiber. By eating ground flaxseeds, one can utilize the omega-3 fatty acid content. Flaxseeds are a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are therefore susceptible to oxidation, or rancidity. To prevent flaxseeds from becoming rancid, they should be stored in the freezer.
Not only do they add a nice texture to foods, but they are also used therapeutically for many different health conditions. Flaxseeds have a high phytoestrogen content and can be used to lower serum levels of sex hormones, especially in overweight and obese women (Sturgeon & Heersink, 2008). Ground flaxseeds have also been found to significantly reduce the frequency of hot flashes (Pruthi & Thompson, 2007).
Ground flaxseeds have also been found to reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Flaxseeds can lower LDL cholesterol. In addition, they reduce Lipoprotein A and improve insulin sensitivity in hyperlipidemic adults (Bloedon & Balikai, 2008). They have also been shown to have an effect on diabetes. In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, flaxseeds were found to reduce C-reactive protein, thus decreasing inflammation, in type 2 diabetics (Pan and Demark-Wahnefried, 2008).
While flaxseeds are considered to be a “Super Food” for their many health benefits, they must be converted to EPA and DHA, and not all individuals are efficient converters. Therefore, fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA, may be a better source of omega 3 fatty acids.
2. Nutritional Yeast- Add up to 1 tbsp to soups, veggies, potatoes, scrambled eggs, tofu, beans, casseroles, and whole grains.
It is an inactive yeast so it is not going to make your bread rise (no active enzymes). But it will give you and your child an extra boost of energy, for its an excellent vegetarian source of vitamin B12. It is also rich in protein! It is yellow in color and is tremendously delicious- has a nutty and cheesy flavor. You can find it in the bulk food section of your grocery store. It comes in a flake or powder form. Think of it as a parmesan cheese substitute.
Although you and your family may be eating a well balanced diet, it is often difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals that your bodies need. This is an excellent way to get those vitamins in a non-pill, food-like form. You can find this in the natural food section of any grocery store (in the bulk section).
Brewer’s yeast is made from the fungus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and is traditionally used to make beer. Brewer’s yeast is a good source of vitamins and minerals, specifically chromium, selenium, and B vitamins. It also contains protein!
The B-complex vitamins in brewer’s yeast include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), and H or B7 (biotin). These vitamins help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which provide the body with energy. They also support the nervous system, help maintain the muscles used for digestion, and keep skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver healthy.
The bitterness of brewer’s yeast helps stimulate stomach acid. Stomach acid, or HCl, aids in the absorption of your food.
Brewer’s yeast can often be confused with nutritional yeast. However, it is much more bitter than nutritional yeast (which has more of a cheesy flavor). Your kids will undoubtly love nutritional yeast, while more mature taste buds will appreciate brewer’s yeast.
Think of this as a substitute for sour cream. See previous December post on goat’s vs. cow’s milk.
5. Ground Sunflower Seeds-
Add 1-2 tbsps to yogurt, smoothies, and salads. Will nicely thicken soups.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of Omega-6 fatty acids. They are high in Vitamin E, giving your skin a beautiful radiance. They are also high in Selenium and Copper, preventing chronic disease. In addition, they are a good source of Zinc, supporting a healthy immune system and promoting skin health.
Add 1/2-1 tsp to soft boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, soups, stir-fries, and beans.
Kelp is a form of seaweed. You can find it dried/powdered in the bulk section of your health food store (where the spices are). Kelp is rich in Iodine, vitamin E, Iron, Calcium, and B vitamins. It can be used in place of salt due to its savory flavor. I mix it in with Cece’s eggs and she devours it!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.