The Earthy aroma of Flaxseed takes time to acquire taste. In spite of the earthen taste, it is a wonder food. Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, it is great caretaker of our Heart. Flaxseed health benefits have been known for long to humans. Flax fiber bundles resembles blonde hair from where the name of “Flaxen” originates. Blue colored flowers grow on flax plants and majority of the plant is seeds. Almost every part of the plant is used commercially- be it stem or seed.
Flax has been cultivated since time immemorial in the Mediterranean to India Belt. In our times, it is grown everywhere resembling the climate of this belt. In the USA, it is grown in North Dakota and Minnesota. Flax was primarily grown for linen. However, flaxseed has its own benefits on health and wellness. Canada is world’s number one in production of Flax and constitutes over 40% of world’s production of Flax.
Ayurveda recommends Flaxseed as generating heat in our body and for treating Vata- or diseases related to air in body like constipation, arthritis etc. However, it is said to aggravate the other two- Pitta or the diseases related to gastric juices and Kafa or the diseases related to cough or phlegm in our bodies.
Flaxseed is used for both internal consumption and external applications. We discuss the various uses of flaxseed from the perspective of providing good health and thereby wellness.
A Caretaker of Heart
Of late, flaxseed has grown in prominence for reducing cholesterol in our blood and lowering blood sugar. Both the functions are necessary for a good heart health. The most important flaxseed health benefit is in reversing cardiovascular conditions due to the effects of reduced cholesterol and lower blood sugar.
Flaxseed contains the essential Omega-3 fatty acids and both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Besides, it is packed with anti-oxidants. All of these besides the bio-active plant constituents like proteins and ligans helps in maintaining cardiovascular health. It is noteworthy that flaxseed is the richest plant source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid. It comes as a great relief to vegetarians who would otherwise have had to consume fish or other sea-food to get this essential element.
The ratio of insoluble and soluble dietary fibers available in Flaxseed is 80:20. The soluble dietary fibers are great for maintaining blood sugar level and the blood cholesterol level. Its potassium source is high and comparable to that of banana. This high potassium content is related to lesser incidence of strokes and blood platelet aggregation. Thereby, a smooth flow is maintained which in turn helps in keeping a good cardiovascular health.
A Proven Laxative
Flaxseed has been used as laxative in almost all ancient medical systems. This is due to flaxseed containing high proportion of insoluble dietary fibers. Being a laxative is one of the prime flaxseed health benefit.
Major insoluble fiber consists of cellulose and lignin. They act as laxatives by increasing the fecal bulk. This reduces the bowel transit time thereby relieves constipation. Besides, its slimy nature further helps in bowel movement.
The recommended intake of 50 g of flaxseed in daily diet increases the soluble fiber intake by 5 g and insoluble fiber intake of 15 g. This is enough to keep the intestinal tract functioning without blockage.
Constipation has been a major worry in western societies due to lack of dietary fibers in their daily intake and consumption of fine food. Consuming the recommended dosage of flaxseed is therefore a sure way to treat this condition and prevent any irritable bowel syndrome.
Ayurveda is the Ancient Science of Medicine. A good deal of literature is available on the subject. Ayurveda describes Flaxseed as having the following function on skin:
– Balances the Skin Ph
– Is Lubricious
– Improves Tensile Strength and Elasticity of the Skin
– Improves the Mositure Holding Capacity of Skin
– Removes Skin Blemishes
– Helps in Wound Healing
With so many benefits on skin packed into one, flaxseed becomes a great medication and enhancer of skin. Powdered flaxseed when applied on would along with honey is known to cure it. This can be applied by forming a paste and applied with a cotton dab over the wound.
Flaxseed oil was used for the treatment of freckles in middle-ages. The most interesting usage being for treating nail disorders in a paste form along with honey. It is also used to treat dry eyes and as ear drops along with garlic oil.
How to Eat
Flaxseed has a well-known earthy taste and its characteristic slimy nature. However, consuming whole seeds will pass through the body without any effect. Therefore, it is important to remove the skin of the seed by grinding or cold pressing. Flaxseed oil is extracted by mechanical cold-pressing. The difference between flaxseed oil and linseed oil is that the linseed oil is extracted from typical cattle feed variety of flaxseed.
Powdered Flaxseed is used in a variety of cooking. It can be added to the dough and cooked. Adding small amount of powdered flaxseed over salads provides enough fibers for the day. It is best to grind flaxseed just before use as it may lose some of its properties in open air. Else, use roasted flaxseed powder which highlights the earthy aroma natural to flaxseed very well.
My favorite flaxseed recipe is pumpkin cooked with flaxseed powder. Add a dash of mustard sauce in it and it tastes great. It does take time to acquire the taste though.
Flaxseed oil can be used in on salad dressings and in smoothies. Sprouted flaxseed is great in salad along with mustard sauce.
With such numerous health benefits Flaxseed is a wonder food. It is great for reducing and controlling blood sugar levels. Flaxseed being the richest plant source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid, it is great in maintaining cardiovascular health.
Flaxseed can be had in powdered form or flaxseed oil contains all the benefits mentioned above. The skin is hard enough to pass through our body unchanged. Hence, the powder or the oil needs to be extracted to reap any benefit.
Over-consumption of flaxseed has adverse effect on health. Hence, do not exceed the daily maximum recommended dosage of 50 g. Higher consumption may lead to diarrhoea in some cases.
Make flaxseed part of your daily diet for a healthy heart and a controlled blood sugar level. Keep it in your kitchen store to treat skin conditions. Do leave your experience and opinion about flaxseed usage in the comment box below. Watch out this space for more articles on health and wellness.