Flax seeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds and have been cultivated for 6,000 years. The Latin name of the flax seed is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful.”
The benefits of flax seeds include helping improve digestion, giving you clearer skin, lowering cholesterol, reducing sugar cravings, balancing hormones, helping with weight loss, treating constipation and helping fight cancer.
Some of the Benefits of Flax seeds
• High in Fiber but Low in Carbs • High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids • Helps Make Skin and Hair Healthy • Helps Lower Cholesterol • Gluten-Free • High in Antioxidants • Supports Digestive Health • May Help Prevent Cancer • Balancing Hormones
Flax seeds can be eaten as whole/unground seeds but are even more beneficial when ground into flax seed meal. Grinding flax helps to absorb both types of fiber it contains, allowing you to take advantage of even more of the benefits of flax seeds. Whole flax seeds will pass right through your body without being digested, which means you will not receive many of the inherent benefits!
Whole flax seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder, which is best done immediately before eating them so they do not spend much time exposed to air. They can also be bought already ground as Flax meal. However, once ground they should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Another useful aspect of flax seeds are they can be used as an egg substitute. This is great for anyone who doesn’t eat eggs due to allergies or are vegan. They can be used in cakes and biscuits, but would not work in, say, a quiche. The basic ratio is one tablespoon of flax seeds to three tablespoons of water to replace one egg. You'll need to grind the flax seeds into a fine powder using a coffee or spice grinder (or use 2 1/2 teaspoons pre-ground), and then you simply whisk in the water until it becomes gelatinous.
Baking and Cooking with Flax seeds
One of the most common questions regarding the use of flax seeds in recipes is whether baking has any effect on flax’s omega-3 fatty acids. According to many studies, you can bake flax seeds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about three hours and the omega-3s in flax seeds will remain stable. When cooking with Flax seeds you may need to increase the liquid quantities as the Flax seeds absorb water.
Tips for including flax seeds in recipes
• Add 1–3 tablespoons of ground flax seed to a morning smoothie. Add plenty of water or almond/coconut milk, due to how the flax seeds absorb liquid. • Mix a tablespoon in with yogurt with some raw honey. • Bake ground flax seeds into muffins, cookies and breads. • Add to granola. • Mix with water and use as an egg substitute in vegetarian/vegan recipes as mentioned above.
One last thought on Flax seeds, if you are new to these seeds start gently as large quantities could cause an upset tummy to start with. Also, as they act as a blood thinner if taken in large quantities, avoid them if you are taking blood thinning medication.
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