Flax seeds have been consumed as food for thousands of years. The Latin name of flax is Linum usitatissimum, and the species name “usitatissimum” means “most useful”.
Flax seed oil is used as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood-finishing products, while its fibers are used to make linen.
There are two basic varieties of flax seeds: brown and yellow or golden. Both of them have similar nutritional characteristics.
Flax seeds are rich in protein, dietary fiber, B1 vitamin (thiamine), and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus (90% of the Daily Value in 100 grams). What’s more, they are packed with a good amount of vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper and zinc.
Also, they contain about 54% omega-3 fatty acids, 18% omega-9 fatty acids and 6% omega-6 fatty acids.
Why eat flax seeds
Flax seed consumption can help you improve digestion, it also lowers cholesterol and gives you healthy skin and hair. Flax seeds are rich in fiber, but low in carbs, which helps reduce sugar cravings and support weight loss.
Also, flax seeds are gluten-free and this makes them great for those who have Celiac disease or have a gluten-sensitivity. They are high in antioxidants, and have anti-viral and antibacterial properties. Therefore they may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus.
What’s more, consuming flax seeds may help protect against prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
In addition, they help balance hormones and dealing with hot flashes.
How to eat flaxseed
The seeds can remain undigested, so you can either consume flaxseed oil or flaxseed meal, but remember that you shouldn’t heath flaxseed oil. You can add it to salads, for example, or on bread and sandwiches.
You can use ground flaxseed in smoothies or eat it with meals that have a higher glycemic index like pasta, rice, etc.
Daily dose and risks
One or two tablespoons of flaxseed meal or flaxseed oil a day are a sufficient amount. Overdose could cause an increased number of bowel movements, diarrhea and dehydration. Always stay hydrated when using flaxseed. An overdose could also cause hormonal effects, shortness of breath, weakness and trouble walking. Pregnant women and people with irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, should not consume flax seeds. People with diabetes, bipolar disorder and those with bleeding disorders or taking medications or supplements with blood-thinning effects, should be cautious and consult with a specialist.
See my flaxseed egg substitute recipe and my flaxseed milk recipe here.
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