Monday, May 2, 2011

Flaxseed Fun

Recently, I’ve had many questions regarding the benefits and use of flax seed. Although flax seed is new to most health markets, the crop itself has been used as a healing treatment since 3,000 BC.

The recent flax movement comes after research shows that adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can decrease the risk of heart disease, prevent some forms of cancer, decrease inflammation and flax provide extra fiber for a healthy colon.

Flax provides:
omega-3 fatty acids
alpha-linoleic acid (ALA)
soluble and insoluble fiber- soluble fiber assist in GI health and bowel movements; insoluble fiber assist in decreasing cholesterol levels in the body
lignans- a phytoestrogen compound that has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer in laboratory studies

Flax comes from a blue-flowered plant that is grown in the northern Midwest region and also Canada. Flax is also grown in other countries around the world. There are two types of flaxseed, brown and golden and both are similar in nutritional benefits. The most important thing to remember about buying and using flaxseed is that the “good stuff” is in the inside of the seed, and humans are unable to digest the outside seed coating.

You can buy whole flax seed and grind it fresh everyday, or you can buy it already ground. My favorite source of flaxseed is Bob’s Redmill Ground Flaxseed which can be found at both Hy-Vee and Fareway stores. It’s crucial to store flax seed in your refrigerator or freezer, since it is a fat and it can go rancid quickly. Using one tablespoon or 8g of milled flaxseed a day is an appropriate intake to meet ALA dietary needs. Milled or ground flaxseed can easily be added to recipes or can be used to replace other fats such as egg or butter in recipes. Ground flaxseed can also be added easily to yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.

*Did you know that omega-3 eggs come from hens which are fed flax seed meal?

Give flaxseed a try!

(Data provided by Flax Council of Canada)

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