Guest Author - Cara Newman
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, offer many amazing benefits for our health. They are thought to be one of the natural miracle foods and their health benefits have been proven in several clinical researches. According to the Flax Council of Canada, flaxseeds were cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. Tracing back even further, other records have shown that flaxseeds were cultivated in ancient Egypt even much earlier than this time.
Since flaxseeds offer anti-inflammatory properties, they are great for preventing heart disease. As for cardiovascular health, flaxseeds can keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries and they can also prevent hardening of the arteries. In addition, flaxseeds have been found to help lowering total cholesterol especially in women. It can also help lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) as well as triglyceride levels. Further more, there is also evidence showing that diets rich in flaxseeds can lower blood pressure and help stabilizing blood-sugar levels. Women who suffer from hot flashes can benefit from consuming diets rich in flaxseeds in decreasing the severity of discomfort. Flaxseeds are truly a miracle food!
One of the most important and well-known health benefits of flaxseeds is their effect on different types of cancer. Researches have shown that flaxseeds can protect against cancer especially postmenopausal breast cancer and possibly colon cancer. In addition, flaxseeds have shown to stunt the growth of prostate tumors.
Flaxseeds offer a superior source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acid. They contain a high level of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseeds are also high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble types; therefore, they can help you maintaining healthy bowl movement. Additionally, lignans, which carry wonderful antioxidant qualities, have been found richly in flaxseeds. Lignans are phytoestrogens, plant chemical compounds, that have a balancing effect on hormones.
The most common flaxseeds you will find in the store are golden flaxseeds and brown flaxseeds. Nutritionally, there is little difference between the golden and the brown flax so you can choose either kind when incorporating them into your diet. Flaxseeds add a nutty flavor to the foods you mix in with. They have an earthy flavor that some people need a little adjustment to it while others find it hardly noticeable.
In most health food stores, you can find flaxseeds in two forms: whole and ground. I prefer to buy whole flax. However, it is suggested that ground flaxseeds offer more nutritional benefits as they are absorbed better in the digestive process. You can also ground the whole flaxseeds at home if you own a good grinder. Additionally, you can find other flax derived products such as flour made from flaxseeds to be used in baking as well as flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil offers a more concentrated form of omega 3 fatty acid compared to flaxseeds in the same quantity. However, it is still the best to consume flaxseeds in their natural state as they offer much more health benefits with other important nutrients than simply omega 3.
To best store flaxseeds, you want to store them in airtight containers or plastic bags and place them either in the frig or in the freezer to prevent oxidation. Since flaxseeds oxidize easily, do not buy them in large quantity. Always pay attention to the expiration date when purchase them in packages instead of buying them in bulk.
How to use flaxseeds: You can sprinkle flaxseeds on salads or cereal or you may blend them in smoothies. Flaxseed flour can be used in baking replacing regular wheat based flour. For even more adventure, you can put flaxseeds in dark sauces such as spaghetti sauce or even in soups. They add a bit of texture and an earthy, nutty flavor to the food. Try them on many of your regular dishes or create recipes that you can add flaxseeds to increase nutritional values. Allow your creativity to flourish as you enjoy the many health benefits of flaxseeds!
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