Flaxseed is another one of those buzz words that most of us had never heard of, before a few years ago. The nutrition industry is ever-changing its mind about all sorts of things. Avoid fat, never mind, low-fat products are bad for you. Avoid carbs, never mind, they’re making us fatter. We’ve all been confused by the information that we hear on the news and online and it’s very hard to sort through all of it.
FLAX has been around since the beginnings of human time. It’s not a new food, but it is a new FAD (at least in USA). I remember the very first time I ever heard about the seed on The Oprah show, featuring Dr. Oz. At the time, I thought he was a little bit nutty. It was before he was “famous”. He suggested you sit around and chew a few flaxseeds. I did not run out and buy some.
My official, personal opinion on the subject of flaxseed is: I can take it or leave it. I use it some, but certainly not every day.
I do recommend it for anyone that has an issue with constipation, it can really help. Take it slow in the beginning, it can make your tummy pretty upset and gassy.
Here is the 411 on flax, without too many unnecessary details:
Most of the world’s flaxseed is grown in Canada.
The recommended daily serving is only 1 tablespoon.
The chicken eggs that are in the grocery store that say they are high in Omega 3’s come from chickens that have been fed flaxseed.
Flaxseed is high in:
Fiber, both soluble and insoluble
Omega 3 Fatty Acids – the good fats
Studies have shown:
It may lower cholesterol levels
It may stunt the growth of prostate tumors and breast cancers
It may help stabilize blood sugar levels and may benefit diabetics
It may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke
It has been linked to help with everything from Asthma to hot flashes
Basically, all of the health benefits have been under studied and until they know more, you get a big bag of maybes. Isn’t that the case with almost every fad we see? I will say, if I had cancer or heart disease, I would make sure to supplement with flaxseed, just in case. You never know and it won’t hurt you. Anyone who is breastfeeding or pregnant, should not supplement with flaxseed because there have not been enough studies on the effects; avoid the unknown.
Brown vs. Golden
Both are nutritionally so similar, it does not matter. Choose whichever color you like the best.
Raw flaxseed tastes a lot like you would expect a bright green blade of grass to taste like. If you like a really raw and earthy flavor, you might like the taste. I’ve never tasted the golden flaxseed, only the brown. I don’t like it plain, so I only use it mixed into things that are likely to cover the taste, like: oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and pancake or waffle batter.
Whole vs. Ground
In order to reap nutritional benefit from flax seeds, the actual seed needs to be penetrated. Whole flax seeds can pass through your digestive track and come out, without ever leaving anything behind. It is suggested that you buy it already ground or that you use a coffee grinder to grind it yourself. You can also chew it, like Dr. Oz suggested. Here is more on the subject from the Mayo Clinic.
Whole flaxseed is stable left out, but ground flaxseed must be refrigerated or it will spoil. It’s best kept in the freezer, for the longest shelf life.