Flax seed, also known as linseed (Alsi in Hindi), is known for its high nutritional value, making it a priority choice of food for health conscious people. Considered as one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet, studies have shown that the seed can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s indeed very high claims for a tiny seed but various research has proved the health benefits of flax seeds. Flax seed has the natural properties of fiber, lignans and omega-3 fatty acids that provide preventative and restorative abilities to your diet. There are two types of flax seed. One type of seed is grown for the seed use and considered an oil seed variety. The other flax seed type is grown specifically for fiber production to be used in the texture industry. These days, flaxseed is found in all kinds of foods, from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal.
The Health Benefits of Flax Seed
Cancer:Recent studies have suggested that flaxseeds have a protective effect against cancer, particularly prostate cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. The omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed inhibited tumor incidence and growth.The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones.
Improved Immune Function: Immunity is the body's ability to defend itself successfully against foreign substances. The alpha linolenic acid and lignans in flax seed, decreases inflammation and promotes healthy functioning of the immune system. Flax seed may be useful to manage autoimmune and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus.
Weight Management: Research indicates that including flaxseed in your daily diet can help you manage your weight. Besides stabilizing your sugar levels, flax expands five times in bulk when ingested. Flax taken half an hour before meals will help you eat less, so you will lose weight while simultaneously strengthening your immune system.
Cardiovascular/Heart Disease: Research suggests that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries and thus help the cardiovascular system. The cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseed are due to the benefits of omega 3 ALA; fiber and lignans. Reducing inflammatory reactions associated with plaque buildup in the arteries prevent heart attack and strokes.
Diabetes: Studies have also shown that the daily intake of the lignans in flax may modestly improve blood sugar.
Hot Flashes: A study on menopausal women reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (taken twice daily) reduces the women's hot flashes in half. And, the intensity of their hot flashes dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking flaxseed daily for just one week, and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.
How to take flax seed?
Buy it ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely be undigested, which means your body doesn't get all the healthful components. You can use your mixer grinder for grinding flaxseed. Add flaxseed to a food you habitually eat maybe oatmeal, soup, or yogurt or curry. Stir in a 1 or 2 tbsp ground flaxseed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it. You can add grounded flax seeds in darkly colored sauces or meat mixtures. Use it in baking. Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, rolls, muffins, bread, 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 much flaxseed do you need?
The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. According to the Flax Council of Canada, 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, .
Who shouldn’t use Flaxseed?
Until more reports and studies are published, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with flaxseeds.
Tips for buying and storing flaxseeds
Milled = ground = flax meal These are the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
Buy either brown or golden flaxseed.There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
Check the product label. Flaxseed is a featured ingredient in cereals, pasta, whole grain breads and crackers, energy bars, meatless meal products, and snack foods. Make sure when buying products containing flaxseed, the label reads ground flaxseed, not whole flaxseed.
The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Keep the grounded flax seeds in a plastic sealable bag and put it in the freezer. 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.