flaxseedsFlax seed (Linum usitatissimum), cultivated as early as 3000 BC, has been one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. This fact remains true today; the flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads imaginable. Flax is an annual plant with slender stems, green leaves, pale blue or bright red flowers, and the fruit – round, dry capsules containing several glossy seeds.

Flax seeds come in two basic varieties: brown and yellow or golden, both containing similar nutritional values. These tiny seeds are nutritionally unique and offer incredible health benefits not found anywhere else in the seed group. With an increasing demand for this super seed, flaxseed can be found in all types of today’s foods – crackers, oatmeal, frozen waffles, even as an additive to smoothies.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, its reputation comes from three primary sources:

Fiber

Just a single tablespoon of flaxseed contains about 8 grams of fiber. Flaxseed has both soluble (cholesterol-lowering) and insoluble fibers (constipation relieving). This helps keep your bowels regular, lower your cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugar. Eating more flax can also help with maintaining a healthy weight, since fiber makes a meal feel larger and more filling.

Omega-3 essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and even some cancers. One tablespoon of flaxseed provides about 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which is all you need for an entire day. Flaxseed can be a real help when it comes to adding these “good fats” to your diet; however, you shouldn’t rely on flaxseed alone to get these omega-3s. Things like fish, soy and corn oils, and walnuts are also high in omega-3s and should be eaten in tandem with flax.

Lignans

Flax seeds are the number one source of lignans, which are chemical compounds found in plants that contain estrogen-like compounds as well as antioxidant properties. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times the amount of lignans than other plant foods! Lignans can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, normalize the menstrual cycle, reduce hot flashes during menopause, and promote fertility.

The combination of the three key health components gives flaxseed a unique combination of nutrients not found in other nuts or seeds. Remember: flax seeds need to be ground to make the nutrients available!

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For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner before use to discuss effects and possible interactions.