Flaxseed or linseed (Linum usitatissimum) has been around over 6,000 years and the ancient Egyptians used it for medicine and food. Flaxseed is one of the richest plant sources of the ω-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but it is found in other foods like walnuts, beans, broccoli and more. Flaxseed is commonly used for a better digestive system and is used for constipation. It may be helpful in heart disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) arthritis, and other health problems because flax is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. However, flaxseed oil is the only one that contains the ALA. Other plants that contain ALA are walnuts, canola (rapeseed), soybean oil and pumpkin seed. Flax seeds are high in fiber and contain lignans, which come from a plant compound know as polyphenols.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that you ground your flaxseed because it is easier to digest. Not grounding them makes it harder to digest and you will not get the same benefits as ground. They also suggest that you don’t take more than 50 grams per day, equaling 5 tablespoons because of certain toxins and always take flax seeds with plenty of water. The National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, (NCCIH) suggest that you do NOT eat them raw which may contain harmful toxins. They also suggest taking flaxseed with plenty of water.
Flaxseed contains Omega-3 (ALA), Fiber, Protein, Vitamin B1, Phosphorus, Manganese, Magnesium, Selenium, B6, Iron, Potassium, Copper, and Zinc. You can also find Omega 3’s in fish oil which is dosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are Omega 3 acids found in fish oil. Other foods that contain Omega 3 acids are walnuts, salmon, and maceral. Flaxseed can be purchased ground, which should come in a mylar package so that the components in the flaxseeds stay active. It is important to know if you grind the seeds use them within 24 hours or they lose their activity. In oil form, it is important to keep it refrigerated.
Here are a few ways you can eat flax seeds.
- Try mixing them in when you bake muffins.
- Add them ground in your yogurt.
- Add them to your morning oatmeal.
- Use them on chicken or meat.
- Put them ground in your cottage cheese, ice cream or applesauce.