With all of the health food talk now, I am sure you have heard about flax-seed. Besides being a great word to use in scrabble, what the heck is it, and what can it do for you? First, we need to learn about where the seed comes from, and a little history. The seed comes from a plant, called, you guessed it, Flax. Flax has been cultivated for over 5,000 years! The Egyptians were one of oldest to cultivate flax. Flax is good for more than just the seed. You can also make linen from flax. Linseed oil, an oil gathered from the seed, is used in the paint and varnish industries. So already this plant is turning out to be a very versatile plant.
What about the seed?
I had never tried adding flax-seed to my food until today. I had heard a great way to add flax-seed to the diet is with oatmeal. So I tried a pinch plain before adding the seed to my oatmeal. There is little if any taste at all to flax-seed. Now the reason why flax-seed is so popular is because it is a power house for Omega 3 fatty acids, an essential acid that helps with brain function, and is said to help prevent heart disease. These are pretty great benefits. Surely something so good must have a downfall right?
Flax seed is generally sold as a flax-seed meal – this is the way to buy it in my opinion. There is very little work that you will have to do. You can buy flax-seed meal in brown or golds. The nutrition is the same, but the price tag is different. The brown flax-seed meal is generally cheaper than the gold. One important thing to remember is flax seeds can go rancid. Exposure to air and light will increase the speed of the flax-seed going rancid. The seed goes rancid because the oil is so unsaturated.
Make sure, if you buy ground flax-seed you follow these tips. Buy refrigerated and fresh flax seeds. After the flax-seed is ground up, it will last for two months if stored correctly. Once you bring it home and open the bag, it will last for about two weeks. Keeping flax-seed in an opaque container, and in the fridge or freezer will allow you to get a good solid two weeks out of the flax seed meal. You can tell if your flax-seed is rancid by the taste. Every time you use flax-seed, taste a pinch. If the flax tastes sour, bitter, or not good, throw it out, as it has gone rancid.
Flax seed is high in fiber. Some say that Flax seed gives them increased bowel movements. So if you are worried about a little trouble in that department, it is suggested to ease your body onto flax-seed by only having a little each time.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield are reporting that the consumption of raw or unripe flax-seed will lead to increased levels of cyanide in the bloodstream. Also if you are on diabetes medication, or an anticoagulant, you should talk to your doctor before adding flax-seed to your diet.
For the average person Flax seed is a very beneficial item to add to your diet. If you have concerns or questions, make sure that you ask your doctor or a certified nutritionist. For me and my family on a vegan diet, this is a great way to add Omega 3 to our diet. So next time you are at the store, pick up some Flax seed.