Flax is an erect annual plant with slender stems. The plant grows approximately four feet tall and has slender leaves with pale blue flowers. It is commonly known as common flax or linseed. Flax is native to the region that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to India. Flax was commonly harvested in ancient Egypt. The fruit the flax plant produces is a small round dry capsule containing several glossy brown seeds. The seed of the Flax plant is the portion of the plant commonly ingested by humans for its health benefits, aromatic essence and nutty flavor.
The flax seed is considered a super food due to its high content of fiber, Alpha Linolenic Acids (ALA) and Lignans. ALA is a type of plant-derived omega 3 fatty acid. ALA is similar to the omega 3 fatty acid found in fish. Studies have shown the ALA found in flax seed is beneficial for lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol). Other benefits show flax seed can help lower blood tryglycerides and blood pressure. It may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack.
Aside from ALA, flax seed is rich in lignan. Lignan is a plant-derived antioxidant. Researchers revealed lignan in flax seed shows a lot of promise in fighting diseases. Lignan has been shown to increase the prevention of breast cancer and coronary heart disease.
Ground flaxseed can be incorporated in your diet by sprinkling it on your oatmeal, cottage cheese, cereal or salad. Milled flaxseed can be substituted for eggs while baking or making pancakes. One tablespoon of milled flaxseed along with three tablespoons of water would be the equivalent to one egg. The final baked good would have less volume and taste gummier. Flaxseed could be incorporated into any recipe when a nutty flavor is desired. Beaware, excessive consumption of flax seeds with inadequate water can cause bowel obstruction.