Eating With Purpose --- Ground Flax Seeds
Flax seeds also known as linseed comes from flax plant (known as Linum usitatissimum). It has been consumed since 8th century for its health benefits. It also has been used in Ayurveda for centuries. Flaxseed was cultivated as early as 3000 BC. It is one of the most powerful super foods on the planet.
So what makes flax seed so special?
Let’s find out.
Strong fiber content, antioxidant content and inti-inflammatory properties make flax seeds a plant based super food.
Flax seeds contain very high amount of omega 3 fatty acid, alpha -linoleic acid (ALA). ALA and omega 3 fatty acid have several cardiovascular benefits. They are also anti-inflammatory. The anti-inflammatory properties prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries. This can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have shown their benefit in lowering blood pressure and boosting heart health. Daily consumption also has shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood stream.
Flaxseed also contain Lignans. Lignans are form of phytoestrogen with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Among all the commonly eaten foods researchers list Flax seeds as a number one source of lignans. Lignans help to decrease inflammation associated with cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and some types of cancers. Studies have suggested potential protective effects against breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Some studies have shown beneficial effects in management of post- menopausal symptoms.
With high fiber content Flaxseeds have some impressive digestive benefits. Two table spoon full provides 4GM of fiber. This helps to regulate bowel pattern and prevent constipation. Soluble fiber in flax seeds helps to slow down gastric emptying which boosts the absorption of nutrients by small intestine. Flaxseed fiber also help steady passage of nutrients through the small intestine. As described above lignans in flax seeds reduce inflammation and cellular changes in the gut which in turn reduces the risk of colon cancer.
So how much we should consume? Normally recommended dose is 1 to 2 table spoon full a day. Start slowly and gradually increase to avoid bloating. I like ground flax seeds as they have nutty flavor and can easily be added to the food. Flax seed oil contains ALA but no lignans and fiber. You can sprinkle the ground flax seeds on cold or hot cereal, oatmeal and grits. Stir in your yogurt. I love baking with flax seeds. Make a batch of healthy muffins and breads. You can use it as a thickner in lentil soups and chili. I like spicy flax seed chutney. This can be made by grinding flax seeds, sesame seeds, grated coconut, garlic, red chilli powder and rock salt. It is a nice condiment that adds extra spice to food.
SO please consider adding this super food in your daily diet. If you are on multiple medications then please consult with your health care provider as flax seeds may decrease the absorption of some medications.