The Facts on Flax
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Flax seeds were the original go-to super seed. Just one tablespoon provides a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals. And of course, we all know that Omega-3 fatty acid is the good stuff, shown by several studies to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke because of the HDL cholesterol.
I’m not going too far into small studies I researched, but several of them show benefits to eating flax seed. Eating flax daily has lowered blood pressure for many people. The antioxidants in it are reported to fight cancer. Because the plant based protein in flax is so strong, it has been shown to satiate the hormone driving hunger in people that are used to meat protein in their diet. This can be very helpful for those who are trying to cut down on meat consumption. Because they keep you feeling full, they can help you with weight loss – if that’s needed. Studies have found that people with type 2 diabetes who added 10–20 grams of flaxseed powder to their daily diet for at least one month saw reductions of 8–20% in blood sugar levels.
Not only is flax seed useful, but it’s versatile! You can get flax oil for use in making dressing. It’s not good for high temperature cooking, but in light stir-frying it’s fine and doesn’t reduce the quality of the oil. Just be sure to treat it like most oils and store it away from heat and light, in a dark glass. That way it doesn’t degrade easily. You can use either the milled or whole seeds to sprinkle them on just about anything or add them into other recipes. You can get the ground up so you can add water and let it sit in the fridge for a while to make your own egg substitute for recipes or add it to recipes to thicken things. This can make a smoothie a lot thicker than the original. I’ve used all of these methods and also plan on adding it to my experiments for meatless burger patties. I mean, if it has a protein that fools your body into thinking “meat!” shouldn’t you use it in your meat substitutes?
I use the ground flax seeds, because for one thing, I have diverticulum that would just LOVE to grab some of those seeds and cause an infection. The ground is just as good and actually is easier for your body to digest and use. Because I have IBS, I was concerned about the amount of fiber added to my already very, very fibrous diet. I found out that researchers recommend at least 1 tablespoon a day for good benefits, but try not to go over 5 tablespoons, because that might disrupt your digestive normality. So if you are into a plant based diet and also use other seeds (like chia) that are high in fiber – be careful. You don’t want to end up in the bathroom all the time.
The main thing – flax seems like a very sensible daily addition to our diet. It has become normalized to almost every grocery store. I normally use it more than chia seeds because to me it’s more versatile and has a lot of the same benefits, however they don’t have as large an amount of minerals as is found in chia. So, be careful of the fiber intake and use both if you want!
If you are interested in seeing how flax seeds stack up against chia seeds take a look at this blog article on chia seeds vs flax seeds.
*Studies pulled from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health