Fantastic Flax

Flax seeds have a  host of nutrients that are helpful to our bodies. There are both brown and gold flaxseed, and they can be used interchangeably.  Flax contains lignans – a class of nutrient that when broken down in our body have many beneficial actions. 1) anticancer agents, 2) phyto (plant-derived) estrogens that could be an alternative  or additive to soy in peri- and menopausal support, 3) antioxidants preventing free-radical tissue damage and 4) Lignans have a cardio-protective LDL-lowering and HDL-increasing effect. Flax also contains soluble and insoluble fiber, so much so that it’s advisable to take it with liquid. Just put a tablespoon of ground flax seed in a glass and add 2 tablespoons of water and watch what happens! It can be even be used as an egg-replacer if you run out of eggs, or are cooking for someone with an allergy!

Flax seeds contain fiber and precursors to omega-3 fatty acids, which can expire or become damaged, so it’s best to buy smaller amounts to maintain a fresher supply. Flax oil will not give you the fiber benefit, and also has a higher probability of going rancid and so must be refrigerated. Flax seeds last in fridge 12 months in an opaque container, or 6 months pre-ground in the freezer. But it’s probably best to buy a little coffee grinder at Reny’s for $12.99 and grind your own fresh. Serving size: 2 tablespoons a day, or 1/4 C three (or more) times a week, ground and sprinkled on salads, whipped into smoothies or soups. Grind it, or it will pass right through, giving you no nutritional benefit. (link to Dr. Andrew Weil’s thoughts).  Some have been concerned about cyanide content of flax, but studies have shown that it’s about the same level as cashews, almonds and some other plant products and that the human body breaks it down harmlessly if not overconsumed (more than 8 T a day).