Yes, blue & green, as in blueberries and spinach. I really wish I could remember where I saw recipes for these smoothies. I’m guessing some link from the ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ site after my juice fast. I saw so much information and ideas on what you could put into smoothies and/or juices. If anyone knows-let me know!
This smoothie was just a spin on the regular ‘green’ smoothie I’m used to having with addition of blueberries. They were on sale, so I took advantage. I don’t really purchase anything that’s too expensive unless I must have it. I commonly buy things are on sale, everything rotates from week to week so I always get a round of everything I want, just not all in the same week. I’ve noticed food prices have skyrocketed lately, especially meat. Not red meat, that’s rarely purchased for my husband only and his cravings. But, I do try to purchase fish on occasion, chicken and ground turkey-and the prices are sky-high right now. I’m not too worried about it though since I’m eating a mostly vegetarian diet lately and am really enjoying it and noticing a HUGE difference in how I feel.
Green & Blue Smoothie
Into the blender goes:
- 2 heaping tablespoons of flax seeds (I used 3 since the spoon I used was fairly small)
- 2 large bananas
- 2 – 3 HUGE handfuls of spinach (washed)
- 1-2 cups of vanilla almond milk (I ran out so added some regular milk)
- A handful of blueberries
This smoothie was really good, however half way through it suddenly seemed really salty to me? I’m not sure why, maybe the addition of real milk, the blueberries? or maybe the change in brand of almond milk? But it was good.
Have I done a post on flax seeds? I love them, I like how they get stuck in your mouth and they are slimy and they crunch. My husband doesn’t, but I think they are growing on him. They are in the bread I buy and I try to put them in anything. So good. I don’t have time to write something on flax seeds, so I’m going to post an article I found on WebMD by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. 🙂
Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries: flaxseed.
Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC, according to the Flax Council of Canada. By the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Fast-forward 13 centuries, and some experts would say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected all those years ago.
These days, flaxseed is found in all kinds of foods, from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed gone up, agricultural use has also increased — to feed all those chickens laying eggs that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
- Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
- Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against cancer, particularly breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, MSc, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.
In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.
Further, the lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients, Thompson says.
Lignans may help protect against cancer by:
- Blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism.
- Interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.
Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.
Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system via several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat, Fitzpatrick says. New research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed, which may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed.
Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries, partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings.
“Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%,” Fitzpatrick says.
Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure, although more research is needed on this.
Eating flaxseed daily may help your cholesterol levels too. Small particles of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic sysndrome. A French-Canadian study in menopausal women reported a decrease in these small LDL particles after the women ate 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseed are the result of the synergistic benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.
Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes.)
Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson’s disease and asthma) by helping to block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents, Fitzpatrick says.
The plant omega-3 ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents.
Reducing inflammatory reactions associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attack and strokes.
One preliminary study on menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut the women’s hot flashes in half. And the intensity of their hot flashes dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week, and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.
But at the 2011 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Mayo Clinic researchers reported there was no significant reduction in hot flashes between postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients eating a bar containing 410 milligrams of phytoestrogens from ground flaxseed and the group eating a placebo bar.
The results, says Thompson, are not surprising because other previous studies have shown that flaxseed reduces hot flashes but the effect does not differ significantly compared to placebo. This is a perfect example of why it is ideal to include a placebo “control” group when studying a food or diet effect on menopausal symptoms.
There are plenty of other reasons for perimenopausal women to include ground flaxseed in their daily diet, and if it happens to appear to reduce the number or severity of their hot flashes through a real or placebo effect, perhaps that is just icing on the cake.
Flaxseed Isn’t a Magic Bullet
It’s tempting to think of flaxseed as a super food due to so many potential health benefits. But keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health.
What matters is consistently making great dietary choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Who Shouldn’t Use Flaxseed?
Until more is known, Thompson says pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed.
“Our own animal studies showed that flaxseed exposure during these stages may be protective against breast cancer in the offspring, but a study of another investigator showed the opposite effect,” Thompson says.
Tips for Using Flaxseed
Many experts believe it’s better to consume flaxseed than flax oil (which contains just part of the seed) so you get all the components. But stay tuned as researchers continue to investigate.
“Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans (taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed) might be as good,” Thompson says.
And how much flaxseed do you need? The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.
Here are more tips for using, buying, and storing flaxseed:
- Buy it ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
- Milled = ground = flax meal. Don’t be confused by the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
- Buy either brown or golden flaxseed. Golden flaxseed is easier on the eyes, but brown flaxseed is easier to find in most supermarkets. There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
- Find it in stores or on the Internet. Many supermarket chains now carry ground flaxseed (or flaxmeal). It’s usually in the flour or “grain” aisle or the whole-grain cereal section, often sold in 1-pound bags. You can also find it in health food stores, or order it through various web sites.
- Check the product label. When buying products containing flaxseed, check the label to make sure ground flaxseed, not whole flaxseed, was added. Flaxseed is a featured ingredient in cereals, pasta, whole grain breads and crackers, energy bars, meatless meal products, and snack foods.
- Add flaxseed to a food you habitually eat. Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it.
- Hide flaxseed in dark, moist dishes. The dishes that hide flaxseed the best usually have a darkly colored sauces or meat mixtures. No one tends to notice flaxseed when it’s stirred into enchilada casserole, chicken parmesan, chili, beef stew, meatloaf or meatballs. For a 4-serving casserole, you can usually get away with adding 2-4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. For a dish serving 6-8, use 4-8 tablespoons.
- Use it in baking. Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.
- Keep it in the freezer. The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze pre-ground flaxseed in the bag you bought it in, or in a plastic sealable bag if you ground it yourself. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.
- Whole flaxseed keeps longer. The outside shell in whole flaxseed appears to keep the fatty acids inside well protected. It’s a good idea to keep your whole flaxseed in a dark, cool place until you grind it. But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.