Flax is nature’s miraculous cure for our heart, blood, joints, colon, aging, brain and even peace of mind!
It was during my pregnancy (4+ years back) that I started reading and researching on natural food, cures supplements, herbs, lifestyle, therapies and more. And I continue to do so till date. Infact, now it’s become a mission for me.
Among all natural food and cures that I have studied so far, one that is discovered to be nature’s most miraculous and versatile medicines is Flax seeds (*Hindi – Alsi).
I can’t write enough about the nutritional benefits of Flax seeds and oil. As this food is being rediscovered the world over, Nutritionists rank it among the top 10 health foods.
Flax seeds are the richest source of oil containing Omega 3 fatty acids - that extraordinary component, the deficiency of which may lead our body to cripple and collapse. “Flax seeds also contain over a hundred times more of a phytonutrient, known as lignan, than wheat bran, buckwheat, rye, millet, oats, and soybeans. Lignins have received a lot of attention lately because of possible anti-cancer properties” – Dr. Sears
Here is a long list (trying hard to present in a nutshell!) of health benefits from Flax.
Boosts Immunity: With, H1N1 scare dictating our lifestyle and affecting mental peace, boosting the immune system has become a top priority. Studies have shown that school children who are given about 1 teaspoon of flax oil a day had fewer and less severe instances of respiratory infections (linked to swine flue) than those who were not supplemented with flax oil.
Healthy Brain Development: This is very important in the first few years of life when a child’s brain grows at a rapid pace and even more so – during the fetus stage and infancy. The Omega 3 fatty acids in flax are key to brain building. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, mothers should supplement their diet with 2 teaspoons of flax oil, if not more, to provide the essential fats to the growing baby.
Heart Friendly: The Omega 3 fatty acids in Flax reduce bad cholesterol improving heart health. Also help in regulating blood pressure.
Healthy Skin and Lustrous Hair: The healthy oils in Flax are beneficial for people who have dry or sensitive skin and are prone to sun burns. Flax is also helpful in reducing dandruff.
Helps in Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis: Flax and Cod liver oil, the richest source of omega-3 fats, have been shown to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Helpful in Diabetes: Flax may lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.
Cure for Post Partum Depression and Hormone Regulation: The lack of essential fatty acids in pregnant women might be a cause of postpartum depression, say experts. Flax can be a cure for this. It also helps normalize hormones during menopause and premenstrual phase.
Cancer Preventive and Healing Properties: Flax seed oil is rich in Lignan, so consuming it can help prevent the occurrence of breast cancer, colon cancer or any other type of cancer.
Stress Releaser: As a result of our processed-food-rich diets, we’re consuming large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and little or zero omega-3 fatty acids, which is a recipe for feeling “stressed out”, says Dr. James Boschman based on his years of research. The essential fatty acids in Flax have calming effect on us releasing stress.
Great for Weight Watchers: Large amount of soluble fibre in flax slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, helping control insulin levels and prolong energy. Soluble fibre, when consumed, satisfies hunger pangs by giving a sense of fullness. For this reason, people who are trying to lose weight should increase their consumption of soluble fibre. When I work late nights, I would rather reach out for the box of ground flax seeds than cookies or chocolates..!
Helps in Constipation: Soluble fibre in Flax acts as an excellent laxative.
Overall Health: The Omega 3 fatty acids have shown to improve high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, and many others as per health experts.
Using Flax Seeds and OIL – Dos and Don’ts
Flax oil should not be used for cooking as it is very heat sensitive and is rather harmful when heated. Flax oil or ground flax can be added to food after cooking.
Flax also turns rancid very quickly. Hence, flax oil and seeds should always be refrigerated with the lid tightly on. Should not be exposed to heat or light. When purchasing, look for refrigerated oil stored in dark colored bottles.
Flax seeds, because they contain high amount of soluble fibre, are more beneficial than their oil. Hence, it’s worth the effort to grind fresh flax seeds. They can be grounded coarsely rather than a very powdery form.
Preparation and serving:
Flax seeds have a yummy nutty flavor. Ground flax seeds can be sprinkled on salads, cereals with cold milk, buttered bread along with jam, in smoothies (soak the flax seeds and blend with any fruit and water/milk).
But, never use it in cake batter, roti/tortilla dough etc because flax loses its nutritional value when exposed to heat (when making rotis over heat).
Flax oil taken with a meal can actually increase the nutritional value of other foods. Mixing flax oil with yogurt helps to emulsify the oil, improving its digestion and metabolism by the body.
So, have Flax, stay fit and turn the life’s clock backward!