Flaxseed Health Benefits and Uses

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Flaxseed Health Benefits and Uses

Flaxseeds have been cultivated for their health benefits for 5000 years but it is only in the last few decades that nutritional science has realized just how good they are for us.

“Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.” Mahatma Gandhi.

I love adding flaxseeds to my meals and baking!  Let’s learn more about this Powerfood.

Essential  Flaxseed Health Benefits

1. Flaxseeds are one of the foods highest in soluble and insoluble fibre;
4 Tbsp flax meal = 8 grams of fiber.

  • Great for detoxing of the body. They contain a gummy soluble fiber called mucilage which protects intestinal flora.
  • Helps keep bowel movements regular eliminating toxins.
  • Blocks excess acidity thus improves digestion.
  • The fibre has cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • The high fiber helps stabilize blood sugar.

2. Flaxseed Lignans Fight Cancer, Infection and More

  • Flaxseeds Reduce Prostate Cancer: Research studies show lignans can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
  • Flaxseeds help with Breast Cancer Survival: Three studies followed thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were published at PubMed Central® 1. 2. 3. They found “Lignans might play an important role in reducing all-cause and cancer-specific mortality of the patients operated on for breast cancer.”
  • Lignans seem to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
  • Lignans may reduce pre-menopausal symptoms, promote fertility and prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Flaxseed omega 3 oil is good for your heart, and a lot more!

3. Flaxseed Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Reduce Inflammation.

  • Many chronic diseases (heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes) are developed from too much inflammation; this is enhanced by having too little Omega-3 intake. Flaxseed oil can be a real help.

Benefits of essential fatty acids:

  • increases “good” Cholesterol levels
  • for organ health
  • keep joints supple
  • a healthy brain; very important when a child’s brain grows the fastest, in utero and during infancy.
  • a healthy heart and arteries
  • can nourish immune system
  • help keep bones strong
  • for a smooth skin

4.  Flaxseed Meal is Low Carb, Low Glycemic Index, and Gluten Free.

  • Although flaxseeds are not a grain, they have a similar vitamin and mineral profile and are often used in grain type recipes.
  • For those on a low carbohydrate diet, or a gluten free diet, flaxseed meal is perfectly safe.  It has a low glycemic  index of 32 and with it’s high fiber is good for weight loss.

Flax has been grown since 3000 BC for its many uses and benefits.

Flaxseed Trivia:

  • Hippocrates used flaxseed for relief of intestinal discomfort.
  • The Egyptians used linen (made from flax seed) to wrap their mummies.
  • Christ wore linen in his tomb. Homer tells of sails made of linen in his Odyssey.
  • Laws were passed requiring people to consume flax seeds for its health benefits by King Charlemagne in the 8th century.
  • Flax was one of the original medicines, used by Hippocrates himself.
  • Some flax varieties are  grown for oil, some for their fiber to make linen.

Flaxseed History:

  • Stone Age: Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland.
  • Around 3000 BC:  flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon.
  • 8th century: King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it because he believed in its health benefits.

Flaxseed Nutrition:

  1. Contains high quality protein; 4 Tbsp flax meal = 6 grams of protein.
  2. Contain vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, and carotene.
  3. Contain many minerals (iron, zinc, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium)
  4. Has vitamin E and carotene, two nutrients which aid the metabolism of the oil.
  5. Contain over a hundred times more of a phytonutrient lignin, than high lignin food such as wheat bran, buckwheat, rye, millet, oats, and soybeans.

Flaxseed History:

  • Stone Age: Flax remnants were found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland.
  • Around 3000 BC: flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon.
  • 8th century: King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it because he believed in its health benefits.

How To Get Flaxseeds Into Your Diet

 First you need to know the varieties of flaxseeds and the forms they come in.

There are two varieties of flaxseeds for consumption; golden and brown flaxseeds.

Brown flaxseed has only slightly more nutrients, so for cooking I  prefer the golden flaxseed as it is lighter in flavour and easier to sneak in my baking.

There are three forms of flaxseeds:

  1. Raw whole flaxseeds
  2. Flaxseed meal
  3. Flaxseed oil

Next we need to get some into our kitchen and for most of us that means going to the supermarket or health food store. Not many of us grow flaxseeds.

How to Purchase Flaxseeds and Meal

Flaxseeds need to be ground into flax meal to make the nutrients available.   No one will ever fully chew the seeds thus the whole seeds pass undigested through the intestines.

  • Check to see the “Best Before” date on packaged flaxseeds and meal.
  • The bag should be opaque and vacuum packed. Light and oxygen will accelerate the meal going rancid.
  • Purchase from a source where you’re sure there is rapid turnover.
  • Ideally the meal should be refrigerated at the store.

How to Purchase Flaxseed Oil:

Buy only refrigerated flaxseed oil stored in black containers and keep flax oil in the refrigerator with the lid on tight.

  • It is important that it is cold pressed and organic.
  • Minimize exposure to heat, light, and air to minimize the oil going rancid.
  • Buy flaxseed oil in smaller containers, depending on how fast you use it as the oil easily turns rancid.

How to store and How Long Before Flaxseeds and Meal go Rancid

  • Flaxseed meal when packaged in a gas-flushed, light protective container and refrigerated after opening will last 6-16 weeks.
  • Whole flaxseeds will last for 6-12 months when stored in an airtight container in a dark, cool dry spot. When immediately refrigerated, they can last for 1-2 years.
  • Conflicting information: some studies suggest that coarsely ground flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for up to 10 months, without spoilage or loss of the omega-3 fatty acid.

Flaxseeds have a mild nutty taste; if there is a bitter taste then they have gone bad and should be thrown out.

  How to Add Flaxseed Oil to Your Diet:

  1. Never cook with flax oil! Any oil high in essential fatty acids are not good for cooking. The heat turns the healthy fats into toxic ones. Add flax oil to foods just before serving.
  2. Flax oil turns rancid quickly.
  • Buy only refrigerated flax oil stored in black containers and keep flax oil in the refrigerator with the lid on tight.
  • It is important that it is cold pressed and organic.
  • Minimize exposure to heat, light, and air.
  • Use within 6 weeks of opening container; the oil easily turns rancid.
  • Buy flax oil in smaller containers, depending on how fast you use it.
  1. Flax oil taken with other food can increase the nutritional value of other foods.
  2. Add the oil to your homemade salad dressings.
  3. You can pour a little on cooked vegetables and grains while they are already on your plate.
  4. Put some in your smoothies.

 Caution about Flaxseeds: 

ANY food if over consumed can affect you negatively.  It depends on your overall health, your digestive health and how sensitive is your immune system.

If you have a delicate digestive system, start with low doses of flax meal to begin with (one table spoon per day) and work up to two. If you have a significant digestive disorder, the fiber/laxative effect of flax could be serious. The National Institutes of Health recommends that people with bowel problems or disease should not consume flaxseed. People with strong digestive systems can eat up to five tablespoons per day with no problems.

Some researchers are concerned about the levels of cyanide compounds (cyanogenic glycosides) in flaxseed, but all studies so far have shown that they do not create the anticipated problems in the body.

Heat, especially on dry flax seeds, breaks these compounds down. U.S. government agencies say that 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal is safe and is probably a good dose for health purposes.

 How to Add Flaxseeds to Your Diet:

Flaxseed Meal:

Heat doesn’t have the same effect on whole flaxseeds. Studies testing omega-3 fat in baked goods found no significant loss of beneficial fats occurring. To get flax seeds in your meals and baking is in the form of flax meal.

Flaxseeds need to be ground into flax meal to make the nutrients available. No one will ever fully chew the seeds thus the whole seeds pass undigested through the intestines.

It is best for you to make your own for freshness and it is easy to do; see my video onHow to Prepare Flax Seed Meal

Baking with Flaxseed meal:

Flaxseed meal is an important ingredient in my cakes, muffins, quick breads and cookies because all my baking is vegan meaning there are no eggs or milk. The flax meal helps to stick it all together.

Egg replacer:

1 Tbsp. Flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)

3 Tbsp. Water

Mix flax seed meal and water in a bowl and let it sit for two to three minutes to thicken it, before adding it to the recipe.

Fat replacer:

3 parts flax seed meal for 1 part oil

Because you are flax meal contains lots of fibre then you need to adjust the flour mixture.

Baked goods with flax meal tend to brown more quickly than regular recipes, you may have to modify normal cooking times.

By | 2017-10-29T15:40:05+00:00 April 25th, 2014|Home Page, Nutrition, PowerFoods|6 Comments

About the Author:

I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.

6 Comments

  1. primnath gopaul April 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    thanks for the info its is of great help to my health

  2. Dexter April 30, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Thank for info it was helpful,I needed that

  3. Carolyn May 1, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Dianna, I love reposting and sharing your research. The information is always informative and necessary for our health.
    Thank you

  4. joy markman May 3, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Hi Diane, I must say that this article was so interesting on flax seeds. I used to have the oil, but after it was none that it contained cyanide, & I was told that you could only eat the whole seeds that were cooked, I decided to give it a miss, but now I will re-introduce it back into my life! Sometimes it is difficult to know when to eat which fat when, as I eat coconut oil/palm fruit oil/olive oil/ Those I use mainly, but can you use them together or must you use them separately – don’t different oils via for the receptor site in the body? & certain oils overpower others? I would appreciate a reply. By the way, I love your website, & in fact, trust you implicitly, because I know you do research on everything.

  5. Diana Herrington June 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Joy, apologies for the delayed reply.
    You can use all of the oils together but personally I think it is better to use one at a time to give your body variety. Best never to eat or drink the same thing always.

    Happy to hear you like this site and doing the research is certainly necessary.
    Happy eating!

  6. Click here July 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I’ve only learned about flaxseed recently when it was briefly mentioned in another blog post and I’ve been curious about it since then. I’m so glad I found this post I learned so much more from here, I like how detailed and specific the information that were stated. Flaxseed seems to have a lot of health benefits that anyone would love to have. I haven’t been to any store that sells any flaxseed products or maybe I already have I just didn’t pay attention to it but now I’m definitely keeping my eye out on it. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Regards,
    Dennis

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