A nutritional powerhouse every one of us should make a part of our regular diet is flaxseed. Also known as linseed, it is a rich source of micronutrients, fiber, manganese, vitamin B1 and the essential fatty acids known as omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed comes from one of the oldest fiber crops in the world – flax – and dates back to ancient Egypt and China where it was cultivated.
Flaxseed is not a common ingredient found in the majority of households and many individuals may not know how to use it in their daily diet. It also comes in several forms which can be confusing to the average consumer who wants to use it but may not know how.
Flaxseed can be found as either whole flaxseed, ground, as an oil, or as a supplement. The best way to get all the nutritional benefits from flaxseed is to use ground flaxseed instead of whole flaxseed or a supplement. Here’s why:
· Whole flaxseed may pass through the digestive system undigested which means you will not get the full nutritional benefits it has to offer.
· Flaxseed oil actually contains more omega-3 fatty acids than ground flaxseed, but it does not contain all of the other nutritional components that ground flaxseed does
· Supplements of flaxseed often only contain one element of the nutrients found in flaxseed such as the omega-3 fatty acid but not much else.
Ground flaxseed or flax meal is the milled seeds of flaxseed. Ground flaxseed is coarser than flour and has a nutty smell and flavor. This form of flaxseed is best because it still contains all of the nutrients whole flaxseed does but is easier for the body to digest allowing better absorption of the nutrients it offers. Ground flaxseed has an array of nutrients it provides from both soluble and insoluble fiber, antioxidant phytochemicals called lignans and other various vitamins and minerals.
Flaxseed is known for promoting heart health but it is not clear which components of the seed are most beneficial. It’s possible that all of the components found within this tiny seed are necessary and that they are all needed at the same time so they can work together may your heart more healthy.
Here are some ideas to begin adding between one to four tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your daily diet:
· Mix into yogurt
· Add to a smoothie
· Blend into cold or hot cereal
· Add to pancake mix
· Add to soups or stews – stir in after cooking is done
· Add to baked goods
· Add to casseroles
The one drawback to ground flaxseed is it does have a short shelf life. Keep it refrigerated in an airtight container that is not see through for up to 3 months.