While flax oil and flaxseeds have been part of the human diet for more than 5,000 years, the benefits of this ancient seed have only recently been recognized by nutritionists. Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland, and ancient Egyptians made fine linens from flax fiber. Hippocrates, a Greek physician in 400 BC, recognized flax as a food which can relieve intestinal discomfort. He is often quoted, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” and in the case of flaxseeds, they are both.
Throughout the centuries, flax has been widely used throughout Europe as a staple. King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. The seeds store well and provide great nutrition. Still to this day, flaxseed are consumed annually in breads and cereal. Flax production moved west across the northern United States and Canada during the 1800s. As settlers moved west, flax was one of the crops produced. North Dakota is the leading producer of flax for oil and food use in the United States. Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal.
Types of Nutritional Flax Products
Flaxseeds can be used ground up, or pressed to make flaxseed oil. Both forms contain the omega-3s and lignans, but the flaxseeds have the added benefit of extra fiber. You might be wondering which is better and how you can decide so I’ll give you benefits of both and then special benefits of each separately. Here are two benefits of both flax oil and flaxseeds.
1. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Lignans have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
2. Organic flax oil is the richest vegetarian source for Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) and Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) that our bodies need. Since our bodies cannot produce EFA’s, they must be obtained from our diet. Flaxseed oil is unique because it contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are necessary for maintaining good health. Our bodies depend on EFA ‘s for normal cell function. Essential fatty acids act as essential building blocks for our bodies. Flax seed oil contains more than twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as fish oils.
Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil has been used to promote healthy skin, hair and nails.
Flaxseed oil can reduce menopause symptoms.
Flaxseed oil can plays a role in increasing metabolism for reducing body fat.
Flaxseed oil is a safe form of phytoestrogens, plant estrogens which can help prevent female cancer.
Flaxseed oil can strengthen the immune system.
Benefits of Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds have the added benefit of extra fiber. Flaxseeds contains both the soluble and insoluble types. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diet. Each tablespoon of flaxseeds contain about 8 grams of fiber. So flaxseed are commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation.
Flaxseed fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.
Flaxseeds can strengthen the immune system.
Flaxseeds can normalize blood fats and lower cholesterol.
Flaxseeds are a great natural laxative.
Flaxseeds are a great source of natural fiber.
Flaxseeds are high in lignans.
Flaxseeds can guard against colon cancer.
Flaxseeds are great for people who have constipation.
Flaxseeds can protect against breast and prostate cancer.
Flaxseeds have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As with anything, problems can occur when something is taken in excess. Taking too much flaxseed oil can overload the liver with fats, so only take 2-3 tablespoons daily. The liver is responsible for breaking down and restructuring nutrients and excess fats can hinder the liver’s filtering process. Flaxseed oil should be avoided by people taking blood-thinners as it may increase bleeding. People with irritable bowel should speak to their doctor before taking flaxseeds due to their high fiber levels.
How Do You Use It?
Never cook with flaxseed oil. It’s too delicate and easily oxidized to risk exposure to high heat. Since flaxseeds can go rancid quickly, either buy ground up flaxseeds and keep them in the refrigerator, or buy the whole seeds and grind them fresh in a coffee grinder. Store in a dark container and don’t leave it in direct sunlight. Look for an expiration date on all flaxseed oil and seeds. If there isn’t one, don’t buy it. Because of all the fiber, be sure to start slowly, with a half-teaspoon and build up. Otherwise, you may experience bloating. Like other sources of fiber, flaxseed should be taken with plenty of water or other fluids.
Here Are Some Ways to Add it to Foods
*Sprinkle flaxseed on your cold cereal or hot oatmeal at breakfast.
*Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to the mustard or mayonnaise that you spread on your sandwich at lunch.
*Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into an 8-ounce container of yogurt or cottage cheese.
*Add ground flaxseed into healthy cookies, muffins, breads and other baked goods.
*Flaxseed meal can also be used as a binder or egg substitute in baked goods for people who are allergic to eggs.
*Blend flaxseeds into protein smoothies.
*Sprinkle on salads or in soups.
*Add flaxseeds or oil to tomato sauces or to casseroles.
*Add flaxseeds to meatballs or meatloaf. This way you increase your omega-3 levels and fiber intake at the same time.
For many years, I have sold Omega Nutrition’s flaxseed oil and flaxseeds. It’s unrefined, certified-organic and grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Additionally, it’s cold-pressed and process at low temperatures to preserve all nutritional value. Finally, the plastic bottles that they use are non toxic. You can purchase our flax products on our website.
Join me next time for more information on healthy fats and oils.