The Facts About Flax

Know what’s on our minds this week at Yoga Travel Tree?  Flax! It’s healthy and delicious and so easy to add into our diets.  Maybe you’ve read about its benefits or maybe you already eat it on a regular basis.  But what is it exactly?  Why is this tiny seed so good for us?

 

Let’s talk about flax.

flax seeds yogatraveltree

Flax is known to have been cultivated as early as 3000 B.C.  Ancient Egyptians used it as medicine.  In 1950, it was first proposed as a treatment for cancer.  The part of the plant that we eat is the seed.  Flaxseeds have a very mild, nutty taste and come in two varieties, brown and yellow.  Brown is more commonly sold in stores, but they both provide the same health benefits.

 

What’s so great about it?

 

  1. Plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Flaxseed contains the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).  ALA works as an antioxidant, prevents cell damage, restores vitamin levels, and breaks down energy stored in the body.
  2. High in Fiber.  Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Several studies at Harvard have shown that consuming more fiber may lower the risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer.  Foods high in fiber will take longer to digest, making you feel full longer.  The recommended intake of dietary fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams per day.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats only 15 grams of fiber per day.
  3. It contains Lignans.  These reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and support the immune system.
  4. Good for the girls.  It has been proven to reduce hot flashes in menopausal women and normalize the menstrual cycle.

 

One 2-tablespoon serving of flaxseeds contains:

  • 60 calories
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 3 g protein
  • 133% of daily-recommended Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • 20% of daily-recommended Vitamin B1

 

How to add it in your diet:

 

1.  Use as an egg replacer in baking.  For each egg required, mix 1 T. ground flaxseed with 3 T. water.  Let sit for a minute and use as the recipe calls for.  In a recipe that requires 2 eggs, using flax instead will add 100 less calories, 5 g. less fat, and no cholesterol.

Note: This will work well for recipes that do not require many eggs.  For example, for cookies, use flax.  For quiche, use eggs.

2.  Sprinkle on cereal or in oatmeal.

3.  Add it to smoothies.

4.  Mix it into thick sauces.  You won’t even know it’s there!

 

How to store it

 

Ground flaxseed can go rancid in just one week if stored at room temperature.  Keep it in an airtight container in the freezer for several months.  Whole flax is less vulnerable and can be kept for up to 6 months at room temperature and up to 1 year in the freezer.  You can tell that flaxseeds have gone bad when they taste bitter.

Did you know?

Flaxseed oil can also be used as a base for oil painting!

 

What are your favorite ways to use flax? New to the seed? What are your first impressions? Let us know in the comments below!

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Megan McGowan is a yoga teacher, student, vegetarian food lover, and world traveler from Chicago.  Her love for healthy food has instilled a passion for cooking since she was a child.  When she’s not on her mat or in the kitchen, you can find her exploring the city or playing with her bunny Lola. Find her at www.meganmcgowan.com or on Facebook.

Images via: The Mindful Body, Vegan Horse Track,