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What are flax seeds? They are tiny bits resembling sesame seeds (see picture). Flaxseeds…
What are flax seeds?
They are tiny bits resembling sesame seeds (see picture). Flaxseeds have a “crunchy nut flavor. They can be consumed sprinkled on salads, cheese or added to “zaatar”, cereals and granolas.
What are flax health benefits?
While all the healthful components of flax have yet to be identified and catalogued (as is true of most whole foods), current research has shown that flax’s chief nutritional attributes (from cancer risk reduction to cardiovascular protection), are owed to three main parts of the seed: lignans, fiber, and omega-3s.
Flax seed contains a high percentage of lignans, phytochemicals that have been found to be beneficial to health. Flax has up to 800 times the phytochemicals of what’s commonly found in other oil seeds.
What’s so great about lignans?
Lignans, classified as a dietary fiber, are a type of phytoestrogen, meaning they’re hormonelike plant structures with weak estrogenlike effects. Lignans are metabolized in the human intestine by friendly bacterial flora and are absorbed and circulated in the bloodstream. Here they exert powerful antioxidant effects that inhibit the process of atherosclerosis, cut LDL cholesterol, potentially lower the risk of] certain types of cancers—specifically the hormone-related breast and prostate cancer.
The spotlight on flaxseeds generally points to their richness in omega-3 fatty acids, ‘good’ fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects: it is full of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely cardioprotective in terms of fighting inflammation.
15 % of these fatty acids are transformed in the body to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, more known for their health benefits.
In a 2009 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists have shown that flaxseed consumption lowers blood LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with either high or normal blood cholesterol levels. The majority of published clinical trials with humans show that eating a daily dose of flaxseeds, between 2 and 6 tablespoons, can lower LDL cholesterol up to 18%. Nevertheless, consult a health professional before taking it as a daily supplement to your diet.
Is there other sources of ALA?
Flax isn’t the only food source of ALA: Walnuts, canola oil, soybeans, avocados, and chia seeds also are good sources of ALA. If you get a good mix of these foods regularly, you’ll probably be in good shape. But 2 to 3 tsp of flaxseed meal is a sure way to get the ALAs you need daily.
Flax seeds high-fiber content is a third reason to consider a regular flaxseed regimen. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types of fibers: healthful for the digestive and cardiovascular systems; with 25% of this being soluble fiber. Loaded with soluble fiber, flaxseeds work like a sponge to absorb cholesterol in your digestive track so that you excrete it.
Just 2 Tablespoons of flaxseed provides roughly 4 g of fiber, which has been shown to help relieve constipation and several other conditions. The fiber content (both soluble and insoluble)adds bulk and helps clean out the digestive tract, and can help with controlling cholesterol and stabilizing blood glucose. Therefore, it can have benefits for those suffering from digestive issues, heart disease, and diabetes.
What other possible health benefits of flaxseeds?
While these are the most current researched benefits of flaxseed, other studies have investigated the seed’s possible role in reducing hot flashes and improving insulin resistance, though results thus far have proved inconclusive.
How to buy, store and consume flax seeds?
Buying Flax seeds
Flax seeds can be bought milled or whole. The pre-ground variety is more convenient. The nutrients in ground flax seeds are more available, and it’s also easier to digest than the whole variety.
When looking for ground flax seeds, you can choose from the more familiar dark-brown, glossy seeds and the golden-colored variety. Both are similar in terms of nutritional makeup; however, you will most likely find only the dark-brown seeds readily available in supermarkets and health food stores.
When you buy food products containing flaxseeds, I recommend looking at the product’s entire nutrient profile before buying it.
Products that offer other benefits, such as cereals that give your body vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc, are better options than foods high in sugar that just contain added flax seed. The addition of flaxseed doesn’t automatically make a food healthful or good for you. Other ingredients, such as sugar and sodium, or additives for preservation purposes outweigh the benefits of the added flax seed. Always read the nutrition label for educated decisions.
Safe Storing Flax seeds:
For safe storage, flax seeds should be in a sealed container. It is better to keep ground flax seeds refrigerated or in freezer to preserve the omega-3 fats. Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for up to four months. To maintain freshness longer, it is preferable to store flax seeds in a plastic container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Eating Flax seeds:
It is better to consume whole, ground flax seed rather than whole flax seeds or flax seed infusion.
They shouldn’t be cooked, because it doesn’t preserve its nutritional quality when cooked at high temperatures.