Cultivated in Egypt thousands of years ago, flaxseed has a long culinary history that honors it as a nutritional powerhouse. Rumor has it that King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have identified why flaxseed may of had the reputation as a health food.
Flaxseed can be found today in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone.
Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, but agricultural use has also increased, such as for feed of chickens and poultry to raise the omega 3 content found in the resulting food products.
The three main components exerting health benefits from flaxseed are lignans, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Flaxseeds are rich in fiber-like compounds called lignans that fight strongly against cancer.
- They also contain water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that can provide special support to the intestinal tract.
- Flaxseeds are the number one source of omega-3s, helping to boost cardiovascular health.
- Flax seed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components.
(Due to poor absorption, plant sources of Omega 3’s are not nearly as valuable as animal sources due to poor conversion to beneficial forms).
Best Ways to Use
- Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal.
- Add flaxseeds to your homemade baked goods.
- To pump up the nutritional volume of your breakfast shake, add ground flaxseeds.
- To give cooked vegetables a nuttier flavor, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on top of them.
- Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies.