How to Reduce Inflammation Through a Plant-Based Diet
Followers of a plant-based diet swear by its benefits. They’ve “never felt better.” Their aches and pains disappear, they’re sleeping better, and their skin glows. So, whether you choose vegetarian, vegan, or even just a whole foods based diet (of which I fall into the latter), it’s worth exploring some of the plant-based superfoods.
Seeds are an important component to a plant-based diet because they offer lots of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium. Chia, flax, and hemp tend to be the most universal and versatile seeds to add into the diet.
- You can find them sprinkled in oatmeal, yogurts, and smoothies.
- You can top off your salads with them.
- You can even use them to create an egg substitute for your baking recipes. (Combine 1 tablespoon of chia or ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons water. Stir and let sit for 15-30 minutes. This mixture would be equivalent to one egg in a recipe.)
For women’s health, specifically, it’s suggested that these seeds can help improve estrogen levels. Some believe flax to actually be too strong at increasing estrogen levels that it poses a risk for those that are estrogen dominant, so that’s something to consider. If you feel this is a concern, or want to air on the conservative side, you can simply stick with chia or hemp seeds.
Nutrition content per tablespoon
Let’s take a look at the nutritional comparison amongst these three seeds.
|Chia||2 gm||4 gm||5 gm||2,400 mg||800 mg|
|Flax||2.5 gm||4.5 gm||3 gm||2,300 mg||600 mg|
|Hemp||3.5 gm||4.6 mg||<1 mg||1,000 mg||2,500 mg|
As you can see, chia is the highest in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. When soaked in a liquid such as water or milk, a gel forms around the seed, expanding it to up to three times its size. This helps you to feel fuller with sustained energy- without the additional calories.
If you want to digest and absorb the nutrients from flax seed, make sure you purchase ground flax or ground it yourself. The body can not properly digest whole flax, it simply passes through the digestive tract without delivering its nutrients to the body.
Hemp, on the other hand, is highest in protein and Omega 6 fatty acids. The protein can be appealing to plant based eaters, but the omega 6 is not always a positive. The ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s should be 2:1, so that’s the opposite for hemp seed. This isn’t a problem if this is your only source of omega 6s, because your body does need them. It is, however, something you want to consider if you eat a traditional American diet with a fair amount of processed foods, which tends to be excessive in Omega 6s and can actually then promote inflammation.
Which is best for you?
I’ve posed several pros and cons to each, to hopefully help you decide which is the best option for you. If you haven’t tried any of the seeds yet, consider giving one a try. As mentioned, there are so many ways to try them.
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