Flaxseed was once used primarily for linseed oil; now it enjoys the spotlight as an excellent, easy-to-use source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lignans, protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin E. Look for it sold as whole seeds (dark or golden) or preground. Refrigerate or freeze up to six months. Whole seeds maintain more of the delicate fats for longer, but always grind before using; whole seeds pass through the body undigested. Flaxseed has a mildly nutty flavor, well suited to blending in other foods.

Try it

Cereal and smoothies. Need a trusty regularity aid? Simply add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed to any hot or cold cereal, or blend it into your morning smoothie.

Baking. Liquids in batters keep heat from destroying flaxseeds’ good fats, so add them (ground) to cookies, muffins, pancakes, and quick breads.

Egg substitute. When mixed with water, ground flaxseed forms a gel-like mixture similar to egg whites. Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed in 3 tablespoons water to replace 1 egg and to add body (but not leavening) to vegan baked goods.