Flax seeds can be either brown and golden and they are also known as linseeds. These are the two basic varieties of flax, and their nutritional composition is very similar. Among all 127 World’s Healthiest Foods, flaxseeds comes out number one as a source of omega-3s!
So why are flax seeds such an important addition to our diet?
First of all they are really good for bowel health as they do a great job in clearing through waste. They are a great source of fibre both soluble and insoluble. So they can help to prevent bowel cancer. A unique feature of flaxseeds is their mucilage (gum) content. “Mucilage” is the water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that can provide special support to the intestinal tract. When you place them in water they become sticky and have a gel like coating to them.
For example, it can help slow down the emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine, thereby improving absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine.
Secondly, they contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
Thirdly they contain high levels of Lignans. They have 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. So what is important about lignans? Well Lignans are fiber-like compounds, but in addition to their fiber-like benefits, they also provide antioxidant protection due to their structure as polyphenols. This unique structure of lignans means the provide a further health-supportive role, in the form of phytoestrogens. These anti-oxidant properties may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.
Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.
Research has shown that Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells. They also provide protection of our blood vessels from inflammatory damage preventing cardiovascular disease.
Ideas for adding Flax seeds to your diet:
- Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal.
- 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.
- Soak a tablespoon of flax seeds in half a cup of water and leave for an hour. These can then be eaten making sure you also drink water after eating them. These are good to eat as part of breakfast.
- Raw flax seed crackers are a tasty snack or they can be eaten with hummus and dips.
- Sprinkle flax seeds onto your salads