What is flax seed? It is native to the area extending from India to the eastern Mediterranean. Linum usitatissimum is the plant’s fancy bio-name. Flax is the common one. Then there’s flax seed oil. Medically, flax seed oil in varied forms has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), dry eyes, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even menopausal hot flashes. The jury’s still out on some of the benefits of flax seed, but most research points to a great future for the humble flax plant.
Flax seed and flax seed by-products are hot stuff in the foods market. The year 2010 alone saw the introduction of over 300 new flax-based food products to the North American market. Three ingredients in flax, flax seed and flax seed oil fuel this popularity…
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, the “good” fats, heart-healthy effects
lignans, which offer antioxidant qualities and plant estrogen—flax seed contains tens to hundreds of times the lignans offered by other plant foods
fiber—flax seed contains both soluble and insoluble fibers.
The best way to get your flax? Not by buying boxed and canned products containing it, but by adding flax directly. Make sure you eat it raw. Try ground flax seed, either buying it pre-ground or grinding your own using a coffee grinder or a simple mortar and pestil. Don’t eat your flax seed whole—it’s likely to pass through undigested, which does you no good.
You can buy “brown flax seed” or “golden flax seed” in your supermarket or health food store. Some think the golden prettier, but there’s not much difference, nutritionally. Once the seed is ground, it’s “flax seed meal”.
You can just chow down on a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seed. But for more appetizing results, try a few flax seed recipes. Add the ground flex seed to soups—it “hides” well in dark, liquidy foods. Flax seed’s a perfect, easy addition to any kind of smoothies recipe. Just dump in a couple of tablespoons’ worth, and you’ll soon make a healthy habit. Ground flax seed can even work nicely sprinkled over a salad. The flax seed benefits—there a hundred of them…and a hundred ways to get them!
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