So I skipped the last two weeks but What is it Wednesday is BACK this week. I was getting tired of researching questionable chemicals so this week’s topic is about flaxseed.
Flax seems to be all the rage these days. I preach the benefits of it often. But how much do you really know about flaxseed? Where does it come from? How is it grown? Let’s find out.
Flaxseed comes from a plant. Wikipedia tells me that the flax plant is around 4 feet tall with slender stems. The flowers are pale blue. The fruit is a dry capsule which contains several of the seeds inside. I lifted this picture of the capsules from the Wikipedia page:
According to this article, most flax is grown in northern Europe and Russia. In the U.S. it is grown in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Flax is grown for both its seed and its fibers. I had no idea that flax fibers were used to make fabric and paper among other things.
Flax seeds can either be brown or golden. The seeds can be purchased as whole seeds or already ground into flaxseed meal. If you purchase whole seeds you can grind them on your own in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.
I use flax in my kitchen all the time. I buy flaxseed meal by the bag. I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand. I believe it is less than $2 for a 16oz bag that lasts me several months.
Ground flax has tons of health benefits. For one, it is a plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The same heart-healthy fatty acids that are found in salmon. It also contains lignans. Lignans are estrogen-like chemicals and also act as antioxidants (per Wikipedia). Finally flax contains tons of fiber per serving. Fiber has been shown to reduce risk of colon cancer.
In all, flaxseed may protect you against certain cancers and improve your heart health because of these three powerhouses of nutrition.
Click here to read the full WebMD article on the benefits of flaxseed.
Here is what milled flaxseed looks like:
It’s basically a brown powdery substance. It’s very light and fluffy.
Because it’s a light and powdery substance, flax is very easy to incorporate into your regular diet. Simply stir 1-2 tablespoons into things you already eat like yogurt, cereal, smoothies, baked goods, pancakes, waffles and sauces.
Flax can be used as an egg substitute in baked goods. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it set and gel for a bit, then add it to the recipe as you would an egg. I’ve used this trick many times.
Whole flax seeds can be kept at room temperature. Flaxseed mill (like the bag I buy) can be kept at room temperature until opened, but then it must be refrigerated.
So do you eat flax on a regular basis? Do you think it’s a beneficial part of your diet? I try to eat it several times a week myself.
For more information read this article about flax on the American Cancer Society’s website.