Be Aware and Act: Flax

February 25, 2014 Updated: February 24, 2014

Breast cancer awareness month is in October—but that doesn’t mean awareness and action should only happen during those 31 days. In fact, you should be honing your breast cancer awareness throughout the year (and that’s for women and men alike!).

Approximately 75 percent of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive. What this means for you is that one of your best cancer prevention techniques is addressing your internal hormonal equilibrium and understanding the estrogen dominance that plagues so many of us (again, women and men alike).

But estrogen dominance doesn’t just result in breast cancer.

Estrogen dominance has lead to a significant increase in female-related disturbances as we have never before seen in history. It’s a modern day epidemic influenced by both environmental factors and our body’s abilities to break down, process and eliminate the excesses that we’re exposed to.

Anything excess in your body functions as a toxin. And estrogen has reached toxic levels in many of us.

Consider these facts and figures related to our cultural hormonal instability:

• the age of puberty has dropped to as low as 10 years of age

• endometriosis plagues approximately 10 percent of all perimenopausal women

• PMS symptoms are increasing, afflicting nearly 30 percent of all menstruating girls and women

• uterine fibroids affect close to 25 percent of women between the ages of 35 to 50

• close to 10 percent of women are diagnosed with breast cancer

• and the symptoms of menopause are getting rougher to navigate as the root causes of those manifestations are being overlooked

Scientific data now supports the fact that hormone disruption is at the root of all these seemingly separate but related conditions.

In comes flax.

While achieving hormone balance may not come in a snack bar, we’ve got a tip that will most certainly help you on your way.
It’s one of our favorite mid-afternoon treats. It’s the Flaxie Maxie bar (adapted from a tried-and-true recipe by one of my awesome and devoted clients).

Below you can learn more about why we love flax (not too little, not too much, not the wrong kind, but how great it is when it’s just right).

Flex Your Flax Muscle

Flaxseeds are a nice source of omega-3 fatty acids, and a great addition to your diet for myriad reasons. Check it out.
Flex your muscle!

• Flaxseeds can be purchased whole, pre-ground, or as an oil. The whole seeds, stored in the freezer and ground weekly or as-needed is our favorite way to incorporate flax into your everyday routine.

• Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA). This is an omega-3 fat that is a precursor to the form of omega-3 found in fish oils called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA.

• Flaxseed oil provides a higher concentration of the ALA than the seeds.

• The seeds provide a host of other nutrients that are lost in the oil, including manganese, magnesium, and especially fiber!

Health Benefits of Flax Include:

o anti-inflammatory properties

o bone protection and health

o cancer prevention—particularly breast cancer

o reduction in formation of blood clots leading to heart disease

o increased insulin response, beneficial for diabetics and all those with blood sugar issues

o blood-pressure regulation

o cholesterol management

o hot flash reduction

Buy It and Store It

o Whole flaxseeds will last longer than pre-ground flax.

o If buying in bulk, be sure the store has a good turn-over rate and the seeds are not sitting too long to ensure freshness.

o Whole flax should be stored in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.

o Grind small amounts in a coffee-type grinder and store in a separate airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer.

o Ground flaxseeds are more prone to oxidation. Purchase in vacuum-sealed or refrigerated bags and store in an airtight glass container in your freezer.

o Flaxseed oil is especially perishable and should be purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated.

o Flaxseed oil should have a sweet nutty flavor.

o Never use flaxseed oil in cooking; add it to foods after they have been heated.

Easy Ways to Eat Flax

Here are some quick and easy ways to boost your flax intake to start to ace your hormone balance:

o Sprinkle ground flax on hot or cold cereal.

o Add ground flax to smoothies.

o Add flaxseed oil to smoothies.

o Use flaxseed oil in place of other oils for salad dressings. (Remember to store in fridge.)

o Dip your bread into flaxseed oil instead of olive oil.

o Add ground flaxseeds to your homemade energy bars (hello Flaxie Maxie!)

o Sprinkle ground flax between the halves of an almond butter and jelly sandwich.

o My son’s favorite breakfast: Gluten-free bread with flaxseed oil, avocado, tomato, smoked salmon, capers and some good-quality sea salt.

With a career born of a personal family health crisis and the loss of her young husband, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama has taken the idea of food as personalized medicine from a clinical practice to guiding thousands of international clients on the journey of taking ownership over their own health through her online programs at and Contact her at:



Flaxie Maxie Bar

This low-glycemic version of my Flax Max Bars was created by one of my clients who’s been experimenting with her fat, fiber and protein snacks to maintain her blood sugar (. . . to balance her hormones), for some time. Thanks EI!


1 1/2 cups almonds (soaked and toasted in the oven is ideal)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cacao butter, coconut oil or a mixture of the two (note: cacao butter will stay harder longer out of the fridge)
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
1/2 cup goji berries
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup fresh ground flax
a little vanilla extract
a couple pinches of salt
handful of cacao nibs
6 drops liquid stevia (add the stevia, mix and taste to bring it to your liking)


1. Pulse nuts, ground flaxseeds, coconut, nut butter and salt in a food processor until coarsely ground.
2. Gently melt the butter and/or oil by placing the glass jar into warm water to soften enough to scoop or pour and measure.
3. Add coconut oil to food processor along with remaining ingredients.
4. Pulse to create a coarse and pasty mixture.
5. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 glass baking dish
7. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, until mixture hardens. Cut into bars and store in refrigerator.
Note from chef: I have used cashews, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter. All are yummy. I like using the cacao butter because of the flavor and it doesn’t melt when traveling.