The value of adding flax seed to your diet
Flax is native to the eastern Mediterranean where it was first grown in the Fertile Crescent. Today, its blue-flowering blooms stretch themselves over increasingly large portions of the prairies as flax becomes a much sought-after ingredient. Used as a source of fibre, it is also the plant from which linseed is extracted. Linseed oil is an edible oil although you are probably more familiar with its use as a wood sealant and additive to artist’s oil paints.
Packed with nutrition
For the health conscious, flax seeds offer a veritable smorgasbord of delights as flax is rich in fibre, lignans, omega-3 fatty acids and an abundance of nutrients including Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6 and Foliate (vitamin B9). Flax also contains vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. And, as if this long list of great nutrients isn’t enough, it tastes pretty good too!
2 tablespoons of flax seeds will give the following nutrients (% or recommended daily value):
- Omega 3: 199.5%
- Magnesium: 20%
- Vitamin B1: 23.3%
- Fibre: 22.9%
- Tryptophan: 18.7%
- Phosphorus: 13.4%
- Copper: 13%
The high content of alpha linolenic acids present in flax seeds (1.7g per tablespoon) make flax a cholesterol-busting miracle food. Studies found that flax seeds helps to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack.
Early studies show that lignan is a type of antioxidant that helps to prevent diseases like Crone’s and colitis, diabetes and even breast cancer. Here is it believed to bind to oestrogen-receptors which inhibit the formation of cancers. More research is required to establish the veracity of these claims, but early findings show promise.
Get your flax straight
The wholesome, nutty flavour of flax makes it an delicious ingredient to add to your diet in a number of easy ways. Sprinkle flax seeds on salads and over cereal. You can use a mixture of milled flax seed and water as a substitute for eggs when baking. This is especially helpful for a vegan diet. Here 1 tablespoon of milled flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water is equivalent to one egg. If you don’t have milled flax seeds, just pop a handful in a coffee grinder or food processor or go old-school and use a mortar and pestle. There are a number of bread products that are high in flax seed content. Be sure to opt for organic products.
Don’t stop there; you can add flax seed to all your baking recipes. Cookies, muffins, casseroles and meatloaf can all benefit from the added health boost that flax seed offers. It’s not just a savoury additive; you can add it to smoothies, juices, applesauce and salad dressings.
How much flax seed is enough? The accepted rule of thumb is at least two tablespoons a day will keep the doctor away.