The Facts About Flax
(BlackDoctor.org) — With the new attention being give to “good fats” versus “bad fats”, flaxseeds are now receiving the attention that they deserve after centuries of use by many cultures.
What Are Flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are slightly bigger than sesame seeds, have a shiny shell and a nutty flavor. These seeds can be eaten whole, although some sources state that the nutrition contained in the seeds is more easily absorbed when eaten in a ground state.
Nutritional Content of Flax Seeds
Flaxseeds contain high levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is converted by the body into eicosapentaeonic acid (EPA), the extremely healthy fatty acid found in fish oils. Due to absorption issues, if an individual chooses to use flax oil or flax seeds rather than fish oil, a higher amount of flax must be consumed in order to equal the nutritional benefits of fish oil.
Forms of Flax
Flaxseeds can be purchased whole or ground, and flaxseed oil can be purchased in the refrigerated section of most health food stores. The nutritional benefits of flaxseed oil are many, although the oil must be refrigerated or it will become rancid quickly. Some nutritionists recommend adding both ground flaxseeds, whole flaxseeds and flaxseed oil to the daily diet in order to absorb the optimal nutritional benefits of this amazing little seed.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in flax offer a multitude of documented benefits:
• Reduction of inflammation
• Reduction of bone loss
• Protection against heart disease, cancer and diabetes
• Prevent and control high blood pressure
• Lower cholesterol
• Dietary fiber
• Prevent or slow the growth of prostate tumors
• Breast cancer protection
• Reduction of hot flashes
• May reduce “dry eye syndrome”
What To Purchase?
Flaxseed oil should be purchased in the refrigerator section of your local health food store. It should have a nutty flavor, and should always be kept cold. Do not cook with flaxseed oil. Rather, sprinkle it on vegetables, salads and other foods.
Ground flaxseed should be purchased in vacuum-sealed packaging only, either on the shelf or refrigerated. Since ground flaxseeds can go rancid quickly, they should always be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Whole flaxseeds are usually sold in bulk or in pre-sealed packaging. Whole flaxseeds are more stable than ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil and can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months as long as they are in a tightly sealed container. They may also be frozen or refrigerated.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are a very healthy and nutritious food that can be easily added to any diet. In whatever form it is purchased, flaxseed can be sprinkled on many foods with vast health benefits. If you are concerned about how much flax to add to your diet, consult your medical provider or nutritionist. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health, so consider adding flax to your diet today!