Linseeds

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Latin Binomial: Linum usitatissimum

Common Names: Flaxseeds, Linseeds

Parts Used: Seeds – a bit larger than the size of a sesame seed, have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Colour ranges from amber to reddish brown – there are Golden and Brown varieties.

Ground linseeds are preferable – as it enhances the nutrient absorption. Linseed oil is available – it lacks the fibre content of whole or ground seeds.

History: Flax has a long and rich history, with many civilizations throughout time celebrating it’s usefulness. Linseeds originated in Mesopotamia and historians found it was cultivated in Babylon in around 3000 B.C.E..

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used flax in around 650 B.C.E, for the relief of abdominal pain. In the same period of time, Theophrastus recommended the use of flax mucilage as a cough remedy.

It was seen as so vital to health in the 8th century that Charlemagne passed a law that required it’s consumption. It was after this that linseeds became immensely appreciated throughout Europe.

Constituents & Nutritional Highlights: One of the most important nutrients available in the linseed seed is Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid, Alpha- Linolenic Acid (ALA), which are found in excellent amounts. Linans – a type of phytoestrogen – are also an important element of the Linseed.

Linseeds are a great source of dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium and manganese. They are also a good source of the minerals phosphorus, iron and copper.

Actions & Benefits: Linseed oil contains almost twice the amount of omega-fatty acids than fish oil – although these are shorter chain ALAs rather than the longer-chain fats found in fish such as salmon. The longer-chain omega 3’s are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Alpha-linolenic acid that is found in linseed oil can be converted into these longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids, but the conversion depends on the presence and activity of an enzyme called delta-6-desaturase, which is less available or less active in some people. People with diabetes or nutrient deficiencies may have an inhibition function of delta-6-desaturase. The consumption of saturated fat and alcohol can also inhibit this enzyme, therefore stopping ALA conversion.

Vitamin B3, B6, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C are also all required by the body for conversion.
It is important for dietary intake of these nutrients to be adequate.

Due to this action – Linseed oil is an excellent vegetarian/vegan option when it comes to obtaining Omega 3 requirements – as long as the conversion is working properly.

ALA has many benefits on it’s own as a short-chain fatty acid – being seen to reduce heart disease risk and cancer risk.

Lignans found in linseeds and linseed oil are fibre compounds that have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors and interfere with the cancer promoting effects of estrogen on breast tissue. Lignans also increase the production of a compound known as sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG. This protein regulates estrogen levels by escorting excess estrogen out of the body. This makes indicates a use for people with estrogen dependent cancers or anyone with hormonal imbalance. Linseeds have been shown in clinical trials to slow breast cancer tumour growth.

Ground linseeds have been shown to be helpful in improving blood lipid profiles. This indicates a use in cholesterol reduction.

For more on Flaxseed’s uses in Herbal Medicine, look at this link – http://materiamedicaresource.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/flaxseed/

Selecting & Storing: Linseeds can be purchased either whole or already ground. Ground linseeds are more convenient but whole linseeds have a longer shelf life.

refrigerated and packaged seeds in store are best – and make sure there is no evidence of moisture. Whole linseeds must be stored in an airtight container in a dark, dry and cool place – do this and they will keep for several months.

Ground linseeds are best refrigerated and purchased in a vacuum-sealed package if possible. Because of their high oil content, Linseeds are highly prone to oxidation after grounding, so keeping them in a tightly sealed container in the fridge is a must – they will keep for 6 months this way. Ground linseeds can be frozen too and will keep for 1 year.

Linseed oil should be cold-pressed and purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated. It should have a sweet nutty flavour. Never use linseed oil in cooking, as it will turn rancid if heated – but it can be added to food after cooking.

LSA mix`- Ground Linseeds, Sunflower Seeds and Almonds, is available. Store this as you would ground linseeds.

Dose: Ground linseed – 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. Oil- 1 tablespoon daily

Cautions & Contraindications: Linseeds contain moderate amounts of oxalate – individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over consumption.

Serving Suggestions: Sprinkle ground linseeds onto cereal or porridge.

Add ground linseeds to your muffin, biscuit and bread recipes.

Add to smoothies.

Sprinkle on top of cooked veggies.

Use as a crumb to coat fish or chicken – can be mixed with breadcrumbs.

Add linseed oil to smoothies or salad dressings. It can also be drizzled over veggies, pasta or brown rice.

Check out my recipe for Banana Bread that has LSA in it.

Try aiming to add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day to your diet. Or do what I do and slurp it straight from the spoon;) It doesn’t taste too bad. Melrose Flaxseed oil – available in the fridge at your local healthfood store – http://www.melrosefoods.com/healthy-organic-products/Melrose-Flaxseed-Oil.aspx

Cranberry, Linseed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup ground linseeds
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup olive oil, coconut oil would also as well
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 cup sulphate free organic dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two cookie sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl whisk oil, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add flour, linseeds, oats, baking soda, chocolate chips and cranberries and combine.

Drop rounded scoops onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on the tray for 1-2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

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Blueberries

Latin binomial:blueberries Vaccinium myrtillus
Common name(s): Blueberry
Family: Ericaceae
Part(s) used: Whole Berry
Qualities:

Varieties Available: There are approx. 30 different species and hundreds or varieties growing in distinctly separate regions.

History: Native in the Nothern Hemisphere including North America, Europe and Asia, blueberries have been consumed by man apparently since pre-historic times. They were not successfully cultivated until the beginning of the 20th century.

Constituents & Nutritional Highlights: Blueberries are an excellent source of flavonoids – especially anthocyanidins. These are powerful anti-oxidant compounds and are responsible for the blue, purple and red pigments.

Blueberries are a very good source of Vitamin C, insoluble-fibre and soluble fibre – such as pectin.

They are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E and riboflavin (B2).

A 100 gram serving of Blueberries = around 2/3 cup:

  • 57 calories
  • 0.7 grams protein
  • 0.3 grams fat
  • 14.5 grams carbohydrate
  • 2.4 grams fibre
  • 9.9 grams of natural sugars (both Fructose and Glucose) – this is a low amount for a fruit.

Actions & Benefits: Health benefits of blueberries are due mainly to anthocyanidins – and their astounding anti-oxidant activities. In fact, in a university study of 60 fruits and vegetables ant their anti-oxidant capabilities – blueberries rated the highest.

Indications: Bluberries are indicated for use in protection against Alzheimer’s disease, improving vision and protecting against macular degeneration. Other eye related conditions such as development of cataracts and glaucoma have also been seen in research to respond to use of blueberries.

Traditionally blueberries were a popular remedy for constipation and diarrhoea. The fibre content plus presence of tannins account for this – the tannins act as an astringent in the digestive system to firm up a loose stool.

Blueberries also promote urinary tract health because they contain the same compounds found in cranberries that help prevent or eliminate urinary tract infections.

Selecting & Storing: Try to keep blueberries free from moisture – not washing them until just before serving. Ripe blueberries should be stored in a covered container in the fridge where they will keep for about 1 week.

Organic blueberries can be rinsed with water before eating, where as non-organic should be sprayed with a produce wash first. Blueberries are on the Dirty Dozen list.

Blueberries in baking may turn a green colour- this is a natural reaction occurring in the pigment and it is still perfectly safe to eat.

Serving Suggestions: Blueberries work great in smoothies – esp. if you only have access to frozen organic berries (Blueberries are not in season for very long at all :()

Sprinkle them on top of your morning porridge or muesli.

Add to yoghurt with some seeds and nuts and healthy granola.

Cook up some healthy pancakes or crepes and make a blueberry sauce.

Add them to salads – just because they are a fruit doesn’t mean they can’t appear at a main meal 😉

Website Links: Check out what the Australian Blueberry farmers have to say… http://www.australianblueberries.com.au/

Banana, Blueberry and Oat Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup traditional rolled oats
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons LSA (AMAAAAAZING stuff. Get it from the health food store. Store it in the fridge. See note below…)
  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk, soy milk, almond milk etc….
  • 1 cup reduced-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt or I use organic blueberry Jelna yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup

Blend oats, banana, blueberries, LSA, milk, yoghurt and honey together until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses. Serve.

You can add any health supplement you like to this because the taste is so strong. I add a teaspoon of vital greens powder. LSA is a ground up mix of Linseeds, Sunflower seeds and Almonds.

Avocado

Latin binomial: Persea americanaImage
Common name(s): Avocado, Alligator Pear

Types: West Indian, Gutemalan (Hass), Mexican (Fuerte) and hybrids between all three. The Fuerte has less oil content.

Part(s) used: Flesh. Best when it has softened to a buttery texture.

History: Native to central and south America and have been cultivated there since 8000 B.C.E

Constituents/ Nutritional Highlights: Avocados are and excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and fibre. In fact, one avocado has the potassium content of 2-3 bananas… but of course also has 2 to 3 times more kilijoules as a banana 😉

100 gram serve of Avocado = around 1/2 of an Avocado:

  • 160 calories
  • 2 grams protein
  • 14.7 grams of fat – 9.8 g mono, 2.8 g poly, only 2.1 g saturated
  • 8.5 grams carbohydrate
  • 6.7 grams dietary fibre
  • 485 mg Potassium

Actions & Benefits: The fat content of avocado is roughly 20%, approx 20 times that of other fruit. The oils provided by Avocado are oleic acid and linoleic acids and may help lower cholesterol levels – lowering LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL.

Indications: Hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Contraindications/cautions: Avocados contain enzymes called chitinases that can cause allergic reactions in some people with a sensitivity to latex.

Non-organic avocados can sometimes be exposed to ethylene gas to induce ripening. This can increase presence of allergenic enzymes. Try to choose organic if possible – esp. in those with allergy sensitivities. To ripen naturally, place in a paper bag with a ripe banana.

How to Select and Store: Ripe Avocados shoul yeild slightly to pressure. Avoid over-ripe, rancid avocados with brown meat (any food with high amounts of unsaturated fats can go rancid easily). As fruit ripens, the skin will go darker.

Once ripe they can be refrigerated for a week if they have not been sliced. Once sliced or mashed, avodado will keep refrigerated for one day – particually if the pit is stored in contact with the flesh.

Mash with a bit of vinegar, lemon or lime juice when serving to prevent from turning brown.

Combinations: Mix chopped avocados with onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander for a rich tasting guacamole.

Serving Suggestions: Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for margarine or mayonnaise in a sandwich.

Make a salad with avocado, sliced fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

Check out this website for a HEAP of Avocado recipes and ideas… http://www.avocado.org.au/recipes/recipe_finder.aspx

Try Chocolate Avocado Mousse…

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

2 soft avocados, cut in half, seed removed
¼ cup dates soaked in ¼ cup water
½  cup maple syrup or runny honey
½ tsp organic vanilla essence
¹/³ cup raw cacoa powder

For Optional Crust:
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup finely grated dried coconut
4 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
2 tbsp honey

  • Whizz up the dates, maple syrup/honey and vanilla in processor or blender.
  • Add the avocado flesh and cacoa powder and process till creamy.
  • Serve chilled or room temperature.
  • Will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days or up to 1 month in the freezer.
  • If using crust, mix all crust ingredients together and press into a pie dish and bake 10 min in a med-hot oven.
  • Chill and fill with mousse.

Tip:
Layer with whipped cream and berries in a goblet or freeze for a few hours, then let sit on bench for 15 min ice cream!