Facts About Flax Seeds You Might Not Already Know

If you’re trying to improve your health and maintain a healthy diet, you may want to start incorporating flax seeds into your meals. These tiny seeds are said to be great for digestion and vascular health, and they may even help to prevent certain types of cancers. Here are just a few fun facts about flax seeds that you might not know.

  1. Flaxseeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than any other foods in the world. These acids remain stable for up to three hours in the oven, which means that you can bake flaxseeds into breads and muffins without losing the omega-3s.
  2. Flaxseeds have the highest amount of lignans of any other food. Lignans are fiber-related polyphenols that offer benefits similar to antioxidants and fibers, and they are beneficial to all humans.
  3. Flaxseeds provide support to the intestinal tract through their mucilage, or “gum” content. This water-soluble gel improves nutrient absorption into the small intestine.
  4. Flaxseeds are proven to reduce metabolic syndrome. Studies show that people who eat 30 grams of flaxseeds each day had a 20% decrease in metabolic syndrome over a 12-week period.
  5. By eating more flaxseeds, you can improve your cardiovascular system. These powerful seeds help prevent excessive inflammation in the blood vessels, keeping your blood pumping and keeping the body safe from diseases.

Flaxseeds [Vegetarian]
What's New and Beneficial About Flaxseeds [The World’s Healthiest Foods]
Flax for Consumers [Ameriflax]

Food Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

Whether you’re cooking for your family or planning a potluck for a whole group, it’s always important to prepare and store food properly to avoid foodborne illness. Here are a few smart tips that will keep your food tasting great while also keeping you out of harm’s way.

  1. Be mindful of leftovers. As a general rule, leftovers should only be kept in the refrigerator for three or four days before they start to go bad. Keep yourself safe by storing all leftovers in airtight containers, and if you don’t eat them in within the recommended time frame, consider it a loss and toss them in the trash.
  2. Use a meat thermometer. When cooking meat, always use a meat thermometer to ensure that it is fully cooked. Beef should be at least 145°F, while poultry should be at least 165°F.
  3. Know your eggs. If you frequently cook eggs, be aware that they have a fairly long lifespan in the refrigerator of three to five weeks. Dishes containing eggs, however, should be discarded after three or four days.
  4. Stay informed about outbreaks. Always watch the news to learn about recent foodborne illness contaminations, such as E. coli or salmonella. Throw away any foods that might be contaminated immediately.
  5. Always wash your hands. The most important thing that you can do when handling any type of food is to wash your hands.

How long can you safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator? [Mayo Clinic]
Learn the Basics to Keep Food Safe at Home [Food Safety News]
Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer [FoodSafety.gov]

Craving Potassium? Load Up on These Superfoods!

Filling your diet with the proper amount of potassium prevents against fatigue, hypertension, and increased blood pressure, and it also helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance throughout your body. If you’re unsure of which foods to eat in order to take in enough potassium, these two recommendations can help.

  1. White beans. These lightly textured, creamy beans are packed with fiber and protein, and they’re also incredibly rich in potassium. White beans contain approximately 1,189 milligrams of potassium per cup, which can easily be obtained through eating a bowl of chili, making a simple bean salad, or just eating white beans as a side dish with any meal.
  2. Leafy greens. If you thought that leafy green vegetables couldn’t possibly be any healthier, their potassium levels will make you think again. On top of their wide assortment of vitamins and minerals, greens also contain an impressive amount of potassium. For example, just one cup of Swiss chard contains 961 milligrams of potassium, which is more than double the amount in a banana. Beet greens also contain around 1,300 milligrams in a cup, while spinach has approximately 839 milligrams.

Top 10 Foods Highest in Potassium [Healthaliciousness]
15 Foods That Are High in Potassium [Health.com]
Foods With More Potassium Than a Banana [Huffington Post]
Potassium and Your CKD Diet [National Kidney Foundation]

Limit Fat and Sugar with These Easy Tips

Fat and sugar are best enjoyed in moderation, but they're found in so many food that it can be very hard to avoid them.

If you want to take control of your diet, these simple tips from the NIH website can help you reduce the amount of fat and sugar your eat:

  • Just because a food is low-fat or fat-free doesn’t mean it’s also low in calories. Those foods can have a large amount of sugar, causing them to also have a large number of calories.
  • Many people don’t consider the added sugar in beverages like soda or juice, but these can also cause you to gain weight. Some studies show that people who cut these sugary drinks out of their diets noticed significantly reduced weight gain.
  • Sugars found naturally in foods like fruit or milk are beneficial to your body, and fresh fruit can make a healthy alternative to other sugary snacks.

You can find more tips about managing your fat and sugar intake on the NIH's website.

Move Over, Dairy! These Foods Are Surprisingly High in Calcium

You learn from an early age that calcium builds strong bones and teeth, but it has a number of other health benefits, as well. This beneficial mineral also helps to regulate your blood pressure, maintains healthy blood vessels, and even aids in preventing Type 2 diabetes. Now that you know why you should eat calcium, here are a few lesser-known ways to get it.

  1. White beans. Beans get a good reputation because of their high levels of protein, but white beans are also very high in calcium, as well. In fact, just one cup of canned white beans provides 191 milligrams of calcium, which is about 19 percent of your daily value. These creamy, mild legumes are great in a hearty chili or mashed as a chickpea substitute in homemade hummus.
  2. Sardines. While these tiny fish may have made you squeamish as a child, sardines are actually one of the healthiest fish that you can eat! Like a lot of seafood, they’re rich in omega 3s, but they also provide 321 milligrams of calcium in just seven sardine filets. Many people choose to eat them plain, but if you prefer to cut down on the fishy flavor, you can also add sardines to a salad.

18 Surprising Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium [Greatist]
18 Surprising Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium [HuffPost Healthy Living]

Baking Tutorials From These Websites Have Delicious Results

If you’re the type of person whose idea of baking includes placing store-bought cookie dough on a cookie sheet, read on: Though it may seem intimidating, learning to bake is much easier than it seems. Learn the basics of baking with these helpful websites!

Baker’s Corner
This accessible website provides just about every resource a beginning baker will need to make something warm and fluffy or gooey and sweet. The Learn to Bake page includes detailed descriptions of the necessary utensils, lists of staple ingredients, and a toolkit of weights and mass that will help you get the proportions straight. Once you become familiar with the ins and outs of baking, you can even browse the recipes to test out your new skills.

Become a Better Baker
Designed for bakers of all skill levels, Become a Better Baker aims to improve everyone’s baking skills and understanding. It offers tutorials for techniques like kneading with a dough hook, properly rolling cinnamon rolls, and even greasing a pan to perfection. If you prefer to learn from example, this is the site for you.

Today’s Imponderable: Why Can’t Oil and Water Mix?

You’ve likely heard the expression “like oil and water,” and you may have even witnessed this strange phenomenon firsthand if you’re an avid baker. Although it is fairly common knowledge, do you really know why oil and water can’t mix?

The main reason why these two liquids can’t mix is because they’re too into themselves—literally. Water molecules are very attached to one another and though they usually mix with other liquids, they’ve met their match with oil, which is also very attached to its own molecules. In more scientific terms, water molecules are polar in nature and can only dissolve other polar molecules. Because oil is non-polar, it cannot dissolve in water. This causes the two liquids to almost seamlessly separate, and the oil then floats on top because it has a lower density than the water.

In nature, you can observe this phenomenon on water birds or animals like beavers. Their oily coats and feathers repel water, which keeps them warm and dry in the winter!

Why Oil and Water Don't Mix [Science Project Ideas]
Why Oil and Water do not mix? [Let’s Talk Chemistry]
Mixing Oil and Water [Science Experiments for Kids]

How to Get More Folic Acid in Your Diet

Folic acid stimulates cell growth and regeneration, enhances red blood cell creation, and even prevents against depression, which is important for people of all ages. Pregnant women benefit even further from folic acid because it prevents against fetal deformities. If you want to take advantage of the many benefits of folic acid, here are a few of the best food sources.

  1. Dark, leafy greens. Dark green colored vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are some of the very best sources of folic acid, and even just one large salad filled with these leafy foods can provide you with enough folic acid for the entire day. Spinach is especially beneficial, as it contains 65% of your daily value in only one cup.
  2. Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits, and other citruses have more folic acid than all other types of fruits. One papaya alone offers 115 mcg of folic acid, which is about 29% of the average person’s recommended daily intake.
  3. Beans, peas and lentils. While not all of these foods are high in folic acid, there are a few beans, peas, and lentils that contain impressively large quantities of the B-complex vitamin. Lentils are especially high in folic acid, containing over 90% of your daily intake in just one cup. Pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans are also very good sources.

Surprising Sources of Folic Acid [Yahoo! Shine]
Foods High in Folic Acid [Prenatal Vitamin HQ]
15 Foods High in Folic Acid [Global Healing Center]
18 Foods High in Folic Acid to Prevent Cancer & Birth Defects [Bembu]

Public Domain/Public Domain

Memorize These Cooking Terms Before Tackling That New Recipe

One of the first steps in becoming an expert in the kitchen is having a thorough understanding of each cooking term on a recipe. After knowing your ingredient, being able to read and follow a recipe correctly is important in how the dish turns out. Here are four must-know kitchen terms to help you out.

  1. Meuniere. This term refers to an ingredient, like poultry or fish, being dredged in flour, then sauteed in butter.
  2. Hull. When preparing a fruit salad, you may be asked to hull the berries, which means to remove the green stems and leaves.
  3. Macerate. Soften and sweeten fruits by macerating them, which means to cover them with lemon juice or liqueur until they have absorbed the flavor.
  4. Proof. Before baking bread, you may need to proof the yeast. This tests if the yeast is still active by dissolving it in warm water with sugar or honey for five minutes to see if it foams or bubbles.

The Basic Kitchen: Glossary of Cooking Terms [Le Petites Gourmettes]
Glossary of Cooking Terms [Better Homes and Gardens]
Cooking Terms [Recipe Goldmine]
Glossary of Cooking Terms [Cookery]
Culinary Terms: Food Dictionary and Glossary of Cooking Terms [Culinary Arts About.com]

Watch Out for These Surprising Sources of Gluten

Whether you suffer from celiac disease or you simply want to promote a healthier lifestyle, more and more people are cutting gluten out of their diets. Gluten is most prominent in breads and other foods containing wheat, but it also sneaks its way into some fairly surprising dishes that you might not expect. Here are a few lesser known sources of gluten.

  1. Veggie burgers. Sure, veggie burgers are a great meat alternative for vegans and vegetarians, but that doesn’t mean that they’re right for gluten-free eaters. Many store-bought brands of veggie burgers contain wheat gluten, and some homemade recipes do as well.
  2. Salad dressing. While replacing a sandwich with a salad is a great way to stick to your gluten-free diet, be careful of the dressings that you choose to top that salad. A number of the thickening agents found in salad dressings achieve their effects with the help of gluten. Check for a substance called “modified food starch” before you purchase any dressing.
  3. Potato chips. Potato chips technically don’t contain gluten because most are made with potatoes and oil, but some brands of flavored potato chips contain flavorings that contain wheat, barley, or rye. Be cautious of any potato chips flavored with things like barbecue or sweet onion.

There’s Gluten In That? [Everyday Health]
10 Surprising Gluten-Containing Foods [Delicious Living]
7 Foods You Never Knew Contained Gluten [HuffPost Healthy Living]

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