Flax seeds are small shiny seeds that are available in two varieties, golden or brown. Because of their size and tough shell, if you eat them whole, they will likely pass through the digestive system without being broken down, and therefore many of their nutritional properties are not absorbed by the body. This can be rectified by grinding the seeds before consumption. Flax seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.
Eating flax seeds regularly can promote a healthy heart. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids they contain facilitates in the lowering of bad LDL cholesterol. Flax seed is a natural lubricant, and also a rich source of fiber, which helps to keep bowel movements regular. Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet also elevates feelings of satiety, meaning you feel fuller for longer. The high content of essential fatty acids in flax can increase the body’s metabolic rate, which aids in the elimination of excess unhealthy fats. Therefore, eating flax seeds every day can support your weight loss efforts.
Eating foods that provoke a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, such as white rice or French-style baguettes, can cause cravings for sweet sugary foods soon after as your blood sugar levels drop. The addition of flax oil or seeds to food will result in a slower, more sustained rise and fall in your blood sugar levels. This will provide prolonged energy and help eliminate the feelings of wanting to eat again soon after a meal.
Flax seeds help the stomach to retain food for longer. This leads to a natural reduction of appetite. The essential oils also increase your metabolism, which assists in burning unwanted excess fat cells.
Flax seeds can be consumed whole, ground or as flax oil. Flax seed oil is also sold in soft gel capsule form in health stores. Ground flax seeds can be obtained by grinding them in a coffee or seed grinder. Flax seed oil can turn rancid quite quickly, and it should be stored in the refrigerator, preferably in an opaque glass bottle with the lid kept on.
Adding Flax Seed to Your Diet
Due to their slightly nutty flavor, flax seeds make a tasty addition to both sweet and savory dishes. At breakfast time, sprinkle ground flax seeds on your cereal, or add a tablespoon of flax oil to a fruit smoothie. Flax oil added to a salad with lemon juice or wine vinegar will provide a healthy lunch, and when preparing dinner, add ground or whole flax seeds to cooked vegetables. Flax seeds can also be used in baking as an ingredient in scones or bread.
When adding flax seeds to your diet, it is advisable to start with small amounts, such as one teaspoon per day, and slowly increase the dose. When your system is unaccustomed to flax, you may experience bloating or flatulence. As flax seeds contain high levels of fiber, be sure to drink adequate water to avoid constipation. If you are taking a prescribed drug for diabetes, you should consult with your doctor before taking flax seed. Pregnant women should consult with a doctor before consuming large doses of flax.