Q: I’ve seen flaxseed oil in the health food section of my grocery store. I’m not sure if I should try it because I’m trying to lower my cholesterol and I’m on a low fat diet.
A: Flaxseed oil is great for people who want to lower their risk of heart disease. It’s rich in omega-3 fats – the same kind of healthy fat found in fish. Omega 3 fats help to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and keep blood cells called platelets from becoming sticky which helps prevent blood clots that can trigger a heart attack.
Use flaxseed oil to drizzle on salads or pasta, but don’t cook with it – high heat causes the fat to break down. You can also buy whole flaxseeds or ground flax meal. You’ll get the benefits of the oil plus a healthy dose of fiber. Make sure to grind whole seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor before you use them, otherwise the tough outer coating prevents them from being digested. Add ground flax meal to muffin or pancake batter, stir into a smoothie or yogurt, or sprinkle on top of cereal. Keep ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil in the refrigerator to keep the fats from going bad.