Natural Wonders – Flax Seed

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These little wonder seeds, also as known “alsi”, may look small and innocent but they’re actually a power house of nutrition and goodness. So grab a handful of flax seed today!

The natural wonder that is flax seed

Flax seeds: Tiny seeds, healthy indeed!

Flax seeds look similar to sesame seeds (til) but are slightly larger in size. They have a hard but smooth and shiny outer shell and their colour palette ranges from deep amber to reddish brown. The flavour is warm, earthy and subtly nutty.

While they are technically not a grain, their vitamin and mineral profile is even better than that of regular grains. Even the amount of fibre, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves the rest of the grain family much behind in quality and content.

 

Health benefits of flax seed:

  • Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids: Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids which help in combating inflammation. Omega-3s are especially good for those suffering from hypertension, as it helps to regulate blood pressure.
  • Rich in multiple nutrients: High in nutrients such as vitamin B complex, magnesium and manganese. They also help to lower cholesterol.
  • Good for digestion: These seeds are full of fibre and hence act as a natural laxative
  • Anti carcinogenic properties: Flax seeds have high levels of lignans (plant chemicals with lots of health benefits) which help in protecting against breast and prostate cancer.
  • Protection against diabetes: Flax seeds are known to decrease insulin resistance and help in regulating blood sugar. The lignans in flax seed may actually help prevent diabetes.
  • Good for weight watchers: Flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, making it an ideal choice for people who limit their intake of sugar and starch. It's also a delight for vegans and vegetarians as it is a non-animal source of omega-3 fatty acid and is often used as an egg substitute in baked products to add structure and body to the food.
  • Beneficial for women’s health: Research shows that flax seed is especially beneficial for women. It’s known to help women improve their chances of conceiving a baby. Flax seeds also helps to promote normal ovulation and in restoring hormonal balance. It’s also been known to protect postmenopausal women from cardiovascular disease.
  • Protection against dry eyes: The Omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed help to fend off dry eyes.

Tips for using flax seed

Ideally, flax seed should be consumed in the grounded form rather than as a whole seed or as its oil. Light grinding allows a better nutrient absorption (or else they will just “pass through”), while flax seed oil alone contains neither the fibre nor the phytochemicals (plant chemicals with disease fighting properties) of the seed itself.

Start slowly if you aren’t used to a high-fibre diet. Grind it coarsely and drink plenty of water along with the powder. You could have it with your cereals or hot and shakes and smoothies or even add it to homemade cookies, vegetables or salads.

To get maximum benefits, 2 tablespoons of ground flax is recommended per day.

Though it’s still being researched and until more is known, pregnant and breastfeeding women should check with their doctors before eating flax seed. Also check the quantity you can have in a day.

Photographs by Roi Pihlaja and Michaelaw, via sxc.hu