LSA (Linseed-Sunflower-Almond) is a formulated seed-meal supplement often recommended by natural health practitioners. It's real power food—a great source of essential omega 3 oils, protein-building amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and fibre. Linseed is also known as flax seed.
The benefits of LSA are not just in what it provides, but what it reduces. Almonds will actually lower the glycemic index of accompanying foods, for example. The vitamin E and selenium in sunflower seeds will help neutralise destructive 'free radical' molecules, and the omega oils in flax have anti-inflammatory properties and can help in healing a surprising number of degenerative conditions.
You can sprinkle LSA over breakfast cereals, desserts, salads, or any dish to pump up the wholesomeness. Health food shops often sell it, but they charge a premium over the raw ingredients. Here's how to make your own, as I do regularly.
- An ordinary kitchen blender
- 1 cup raw linseed / flax seed
- 2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds (hulled)
- 1/3 cup raw almonds (shelled)
- An airtight storage container
You are most likely able to buy the raw ingredients at the same local health food store that sells pre-prepared LSA, but you might have to pay boutique prices for small quantities. Better to find a bulk supplier and stock up! I usually buy my dry goods from the atmospheric NSM in Melbourne. In North America and the UK, you have places such as Whole Foods Market outlets, for example, where you should be able to find everything you need. If in doubt, consult your local Yellow Pages for wholesalers of nuts and seeds, and with a bit of luck they'll be happy to sell to the public.
I highly recommend quarantining any bulk nuts and seeds that you do not intend to use immediately by throwing them in the freezer for a week or so. This is a trick that I've developed through hard experience. The sustained, extreme cold in the freezer kills any insect eggs that might be present, saving you from the sorts of squirmy tragedies that have befallen my precious stockpiles in the past. Wrap the seeds in a couple of plastic bags to keep the freezer smell/taste at bay. After the freezer stint, airtight storage will fend off weevils, grubs, and excessive oxidation (rancid oils are much worse for your health than most grubs are). Also, a traditional remedy for weevils is to include a bay leaf in the container.
Before operating the blender, add the flax seeds to the jug first, then the sunflower seeds, then the almonds. It's very important to not overheat your LSA by spinning the blender for longer than is necessary. Keep it short and sweet, and use a low speed setting. Blenders generate considerable heat, and you risk degrading the precious omega oils within the flax seed. For the same reason, as soon as you've finished blending, dump your LSA out of the blender into a container, and quickly scoop out the caked material near the blades so that it can cool instead of sitting there and slow-cooking.
Some blenders might be more suitable than others, depending on their shape, speed, and the way that they will tend to circulate the seeds. Very old blenders might struggle, and powerful, high-end modern units will require care. Mine is a 1.5ltr 500w $40 Ebay Australia special, sold under the Prima or Ideal brand names. It works well with the quantities given here, though the blade bushing is getting pretty worn and noisy after years of grinding work.
If your blender doesn't seem to do the job, try varying the total volume of seed mix while keeping the proportions constant. You are aiming for a critical balance: enough material to provide downward pressure, keeping the swirling seeds civilised and fluid rather than flying explosively around the top of the jug—but not so much that it all gets bogged down and stuck with the upper layers failing to circulate down to the blades. If the latter occurs, use reduced proportions next time. If the mix has been whizzed around violently and has not been well pulverised, try using more of the seed mix next time. If all else fails, borrow your neighbour's blender and forget to return it. Or talk your neighbour into buying a dedicated grain and oilseed grinder, and borrow that.
Don't be afraid to hold the jug in place while shaking the blender slightly as it's running to encourage reticent seeds to fall towards the blade vortex. This is what I do near the end of grinding when the mix circulates more slowly. A timely mid-operation prod with a spatula might help too, but you shouldn't really have to.
A few larger chunks of unblended almond on top are no problem. Better that than too much heat. Your body has a hope of digesting chunks of unchewed almond and sunflower kernel because the hard shells have been removed before you buy them. It's the shiny flax shells that you really need to crack to make the goodness inside accessible.
You don't have to get the recipe proportions exact. I have varied them considerably in the past, and haven't had a problem getting them to blend up nicely. But don't skimp on the flax seeds—they're the star performers here.
Repeat the above until you have enough to last you for a couple of weeks or more. All going well you will have made yourself a nice jar or two of golden-brown, home-made LSA in no time.
Store your LSA in the fridge to protect the exposed flax oils from rancidity, to which they are very susceptible. Use an airtight container. Don't waste LSA in baked or cooked foods, where the heat will ruin the beneficial oils—use it fresh for maximum value. Try sprinkling it on your cereal in the morning. LSA is rather dry and unappetising on its own, but contributes a flavour that you grow accustomed to and will even miss should you run out of it. So make more, and live longer!
Don't overdo it
Too much of a good thing is bad, probably even something as helpful as LSA. Almonds contain oxalates, and flax contains cyanogenic glycoside compounds, neither of which are a problem at normal consumption levels, but could become so if you went berserk and ate buckets of the stuff every day. Also, the healthy soluble fibre in the flax seeds can apparently cause bloating and gas if you're not used to it, so you might want to introduce LSA into your diet gradually.
I stress that I am an amateur in matters of nutrition, not an expert. I recommend LSA only in a general sense based upon common knowledge. Please consult a qualified health professional before making any unusual dietary decisions.