Flax, common flax, flaxseed, linseed, Alsi or teesi (Hindi, Gujarati, and Punjabi), Ali vidai in Tamil , Atasi, and Jawas in Marathi, Tishi in Bengali, Pesi in Oriya, Agasi in Kannada, Avise ginzalu in Telugu, and Cheruchana vithu in Malayalam.
What is Flaxseed and How does it look?
Flax seed is a glossy, reddish-brown, nutritive seed containing 30 – 45% oil. Flax seed derives from the annual herb flax, or Linum usitatissimum and is believed to be native to Europe and Eastern Asia or perhaps Egypt. Employed since ancient times for its fiber, the flax plant is the source of linen, formerly the world’s most popular textile.
Flax seeds come in two basic varieties:
(1) brown and
(2) yellow or golden.
Most types have similar nutritional characteristics and equal amounts of short-chainomega-3 fatty acids. The exception is a type of yellow flax called Linola or solin, which has a completely different oil profile and is very low in omega-3. Although brown flax can be consumed as readily as yellow, and has been for thousands of years, it is better known as an ingredient in paints, fiber and cattle feed. Flax seeds produce avegetable oil known as flaxseed or linseed oil, which is one of the oldest commercial oils and solvent-processed flax seed oil has been used for centuries as a drying oil in painting and varnishing
Benefits of Flaxseed/Linseed?
It may be tiny, but it’s mighty: The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust.
- Very low in carbohydrates which makes it an ideal choice for people limiting their intake of starches and sugars.
- Perfect combination of healthy fat and high fiber content which make it a great food ideal for weight loss and maintenance
- Rich in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese.
- Flax seed is Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids which is essential in fighting against chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and even some cancers.
- Immensely high in fiber – both soluble and insoluble, which is for the cholesterol-lowering effects along with stabilizing the blood sugar thereby enabling proper functioning of the intestines.
- Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances which tend to balance female hormones. There is evidence that lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer. In addition, lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
The below is the list of benefits the oil might help to accomplish (source: essortment.com)
- Research shows low incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in populations that have high amounts of lignan in their diet. Flax is 100 times richer in lignan than most whole grains.
- Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and prevent clots in arteries, which may result in strokes, heart attacks and thromboses.
- Helps protect the body against high blood pressure, inflammation, water retention, sticky platelets and lowered immune function.
- Shortens recovery time for fatigued muscles after exertion.
- Increases the body’s production of energy and also increases stamina.
- Accelerates the healing of sprains and bruises.
- Eases weight loss in people afflicted with obesity.
- Stimulates brown fat cells and increases the metabolic rate making it easier to burn off fat.
- Improves the absorption of Calcium
- Strengthens finger and toenails.
- Can improve eyesight and perception of colors.
- Can often improve the function of the liver.
- Can relieve the side effects and stop development of many forms of cancer.
- Can relieve some cases of Asthma.
- Helpful in the treatment of Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dandruff.
- Can relieve the symptoms of Rheumatoid It can relieve the symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus.
- Can alleviate some allergies.
- Helps prevent Atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels, especially the large and medium-sized arteries, that many people experience during the aging process).
- Lowers high blood pressure in Hypertension sufferers.
- Has been scientifically proven to treat some cases of depression.
- Can improve the mental function of many old age pensioners.
- Can help in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
- Has been proven to improve the behavior of Schizophrenics.
- Can relieve some cases of Premenstrual (PMS) in females.
Who Shouldn’t Use Flaxseed?
Until more is known, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed. (source: webmd.com)
Tips for Using Flaxseed
- Many experts believe it’s better to consume flaxseed than flax oil (which contains just part of the seed) so you get all the components.
- “Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans (taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed) might be as good.
And how much flaxseed do you need?
The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.
How to use Flaxseed?
- Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
- Drink plenty of water. There is so much soluble fiber in flax that it is important to drink plenty of water when eating flax products, otherwise constipation may result.
- Start slowly if you aren’t used to a high fiber diet.
- If you purchase the whole seeds, you need to grind them up to get the benefit.
- Flax is often used as an egg substitute in baked goods for people who can’t or choose not to eat eggs. This is because of the soluble fiber, which adds structure to the food.
- About 2/3 to 3/4 cup of flax seed yields 1 cup of flax meal.
- Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed.
- Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.
How to Buy and Store Flaxseed?
- Brown flaxseed is easier to find in most supermarkets than golden/yellow flaxseed. There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
- Don’t be confused by the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
- The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer.
- Freeze pre-ground flaxseed in the bag you bought it in, or in a plastic sealable bag if you ground it yourself. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.
- The outside shell in whole flaxseed appears to keep the fatty acids inside well protected. It’s a good idea to keep your whole flaxseed in a dark, cool place until you grind it. But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.
You can buy it online at Amazon
Flax Seed Safety and Side Effects
Concerns about flax seed revolve around four potential issues. However, remember that a lot of research about the wonders of flax show little or no problems from eating it –- to the contrary, it has shown many benefits.
- Since flax has such a high fiber content, it’s best to start with a small amount and increase slowly, otherwise cramping and a “laxative effect” can result. People with irritable bowel syndrome may have an especially strong reaction to it, and should be extra-careful.
- The oil in flax is highly unsaturated making it very prone to oxidation (rancidity) unless it is stored correctly. Flax seeds not exposed to large amounts of heat stay safe to eat for at least a year. However, flax meal, and especially flax oil, are a different story which stored away from heat and light, will keep fresh for a few months, and the oil must be protected by refrigeration in dark containers, preferably being consumed within a few weeks of opening. Better to grind it when needed/required.
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