Flax was brought to North America with the early colonists and was first planted in the United States. In the 17th century, it was planted in Canada, which is currently the major producer of flax seeds.
Flax seeds are shaped like sesame seeds but are a bit bigger. The colours available are usually a dark brown but can also be this light amber colour that you see in the photo above. The flavour of flax seeds is warm and earthy, with a nutty edge. To make sure that you are able to get all of the benefits of the flax seed, eat it ground rather than whole.
Nutritional Benefits of Flax Seeds
- excellent source of Omega 3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid(ALA) as well as phytoestrogens known as lignans*
- good source of dietary fiber
- good source of magnesium
- good source of potassium
- good source of manganese
- good source of the minerals phosphorus, iron and copper
*Lignans are fiber compounds that can bind to estrogen and testosterone receptors to decrease the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Lignans also increase the production of a protein which helps to regulate the amount of estrogen in the body.
More Benefits of Flax Seeds
- decreases risk of breast cancer
- decreases risk of prostate cancer
- reduces risk of heart disease (ALA is important here)
When you purchase flax seeds, buy them in the whole seed and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Here they will store for several months. If you put them in the fridge or freezer they will store for at least a year.
If you decide to purchase ground flax, make sure that it has been vacuum-sealed and has been refrigerated. When you get them home, keep them in the fridge. Once flax seeds are ground they are susceptible to oxidation and easily go rancid. If you grind the seeds yourself, use a coffee or seed grinder and then keep them in a sealed container in the fridge.
Grinding your flax seeds makes it easier for you to digest them and therefore benefit from them more.
Flax seed oil has a sweet, nutty flavour and is a nice option for getting your healthy fats in your diet. Flax seed oil should be unrefined, cold pressed and purchased in dark bottles that have been refrigerated in transit and in the store. If the oil tastes at all bitter, then it is rancid. Throw it out, please. Never cook with flax oil but you could pour it on food that has been cooked.
Quick and Easy Ways to Add Flaxseeds to your Daily Diet
2 Tablespoons per serving is a good start
- Sprinkle ground flax on your cold or hot cereal
- Add ground flax to your breakfast smoothie (you will need more liquid as the flax will swell and make your smoothie thicker)
- Add flax seed oil to your smoothie (about 1 Tablespoon)
- Use flax seed oil to make your salad dressings
- Add ground flax seed to your favourite energy bar, muffin, or cookie recipe
Carob Flax Treats
In a bowl, mix together the following (all organic):
1 cup flax seeds, ground
1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
1 cup cashew nuts, roughly chopped (or hemp seeds to make this nut-free)
1 cup shredded coconut + extra for rolling
1/3 cup goji berries, soaked 20 minutes (optional)
1 cup carob powder or raw cacao powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple juice or coconut water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Roll about 2 teaspoons into a ball and if desired also roll in shredded coconut.
Makes about 30 balls.
- In a bowl, mix together the following (all organic):
- 1 cup flax seeds, ground
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
- 1 cup cashew nuts, roughly chopped (or hemp seeds to make this nut-free)
- 1 cup shredded coconut + extra for rolling
- ⅓ cup goji berries, soaked 20 minutes (optional)
- 1 cup carob powder or raw cacao powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup apple juice or coconut water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Roll about 2 teaspoons into a ball and if desired also roll in shredded coconut.