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Easy Add-Ins to Boost Nutrition

Toss these ingredients into your recipes for an instant nutrient blast.

3. Ground Flaxseed continued...

At the level of 1 to 2 tablespoons a day, there don't appear to be any negative health consequences to eating ground flaxseed. And research has shown there are many potential benefits, including:

  • Possible protection against cancer and reduction of tumor growth (such as breast, prostate and colon).
  • A reduced risk of heart disease. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the risk of blood clots and stroke and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help to lower total and LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure.
  • Better regulation of bowel functions, and prevention of constipation.
  • Possible improvements in blood sugar (glucose) control and insulin resistance.
  • Possible benefits in many immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

To get the biggest healthy bang for your one buck (a pound of flaxseed costs about $1 in your health food store), you're probably better off getting all of the flaxseed components together in the ground seed rather than just the lignans or just the omega-3s. For example, lignans have been linked to boosting the immune system, but so have omega-3s -- just through different metabolic pathways. Lignans appear to offer a measure of protection against some cancers. So do omega-3s -- again, through different mechanisms.

I do have one caution about flaxseed: Until more studies on humans are completed, Lilian Thompson, PhD, a pioneer in flaxseed research, recommends that pregnant women not eat flaxseed.

You can easily add ground flaxseed to:

  • Smoothies (my personal favorite).
  • Hot or cold breakfast cereals.
  • Muffins and breads you make at home. Replace no more than 1/4 cup of every cup of flour the recipe calls for with ground flaxseed.
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese.

4. Fruits and Veggies

We all know that fruits and vegetables are great for our health in many ways, and that we should be eating more of them. Some studies suggest 8 to 10 servings a day are ideal.

Here are some tips on how to add these to your meals and snacks. The good news is that frozen (or dried, in the case of fruit) often works as well as fresh.

Besides enjoying fruit as a snack or appetizer, add it to:

  • Pancakes or waffles (slice some on top or add them to the batter)
  • Smoothies or shakes
  • Muffins
  • Yogurt
  • Light ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Hot or cold cereals
  • Your lunch or dinner plate as a garnish

Add extra vegetables to:

  • Green salad, pasta salad, or rice salad
  • Egg dishes (omelets, scrambled eggs, etc.)
  • Casseroles
  • Soups and stews
  • Pasta dishes
  • Stir-fry side dish or entrée
  • Sandwiches
  • Muffin batter (grated carrots and zucchini work well here)
  • Your lunch and dinner plate as a garnish
Reviewed on July 28, 2006

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