What are Flaxseeds

Flax (also known as Common Flax or Linseed) is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. Flax is grown both for its seed and for its fibres.Flaxseed is also known as linseed. Flaxseeds are known as San, Alsi in Hindi, Gujarati, and Punjabi, Ali Vidai in Tamil. In Marathi, it is also known as Jawas and Alashi. In Bengali, it is known as Tishi, In Oriya it is called Pesi. In Kannada, it’s called Agasi. The Telugu people call it Avise ginzalu. Finally, in Kerala, the Malayalis call it Cheruchana vithu.

Flax fibres

  • Flax fibers are amongst the oldest fibre crops in the world. The use of flax for the production of linen goes back 5000 years.
  • Flax fibre is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fibre is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fibre but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope.
  • Flax fibre is also a raw material for the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes and rolling paper for cigarettes.
  • The major fibre flax-producing countries are Canada, USA and China, though there is also significant production in India and throughout Europe.

Flax seeds come in two basic varieties;

"brown-flaxseed.jpg" Brown flaxseeds
"yello-flaxseed.jpg" Yellow flaxseeds (also referred to as golden)

Brown flax -can be consumed and has been for thousands of years, it is better known as an ingredient in paints, fibre and cattle feed. Brown and yellow flax have similar nutritional values and equal amounts of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The exception is a type of yellow flax called solin, also known as Linola, which is very low in omega-3 and has a completely different oil profile. Uses

  1. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets and soap.
  2. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, as flax is one of the few plant species capable of producing truly blue flowers (most “blue” flowers are really shades of purple), although not all flax varieties produce blue flowers.
  3. The seeds produce a vegetable oil known as linseed oil or flaxseed oil. It is one of the oldest commercial oils and solvent-processed flax seed oil has been used for centuries as a drying oil in painting and varnishing.
  4. Ground flax seeds can also be mixed in with oatmeal, yogurt, water (similar to Metamucil), or any other food item where a nutty flavour is appropriate.
  5. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds and three tablespoons of water may serve as a replacement for one egg in baking by binding the other ingredients together.
  6. Flaxseed oil is most commonly consumed with salads or in capsules.
  7. Flax seed owes its nutritional benefits to lignans and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3s, often in short supply in populations with low-fish diets, promote heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and plaque formation in arteries.
  8. In addition, flaxseed oil is often recommended as a galactagogue. Eating too many Flax seeds can also cause diarrhea.Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.
  9. Flax seed sprouts are edible, with a slightly spicy flavour.
  10. Alpha linolenic acid is a type of plant-derived omega 3 fatty acid, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Other benefits show that flax seed may also help lower blood triglyceride and blood pressure. It may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack.
  11. Aside from alpha linolenic acid, flax seed is rich in lignan. Lignan is a type phytoestrogen (antioxidant) and also provides fiber. Researches reveal that lignan in flax seed shows a lot of promise in fighting disease — including a possible role in cancer prevention especially breast cancer. It is thought that lignan metabolites can bind to estrogen receptors, hence inhibiting the onset of estrogen-stimulated breast cancer.
  12. Recent studies also showed positive benefits of flax seed oil in IBD (Crohn’s Disease and Colitis). Flax seed oil seems to be able to heal the inner lining of the inflamed intestines.

Flax seed
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

  • Energy -530 kcal 2230 kJ
  • Carbohydrates -28.88 g
  • Sugars -1.55 g
  • Dietary fiber -27.3 g
  • Fat- 42.16 g
  • Protein -18.29 g
  • Thiamin (Vit. B1)-1.644 mg 126%
  • Riboflavin (Vit. B2) -0.161 mg 11%
  • Niacin (Vit. B3) -3.08 mg 21%
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) -0.985 mg 20%
  • Vitamin B6 -0.473 mg 36%
  • Folate (Vit. B9) -0 µg 0%
  • Vitamin C- 0.6 mg 1%
  • Calcium -255 mg 26%
  • Iron -5.73 mg 46%
  • Magnesium- 392 mg 106%
  • Phosphorus -642 mg 92%
  • Potassium- 813 mg 17%
  • Zinc- 4.34 mg 43%

Flax seed in home cooking

  • Sprinkle ground flax seed on your cereal and salads.
  • Substitute flax seed mixture for eggs in home baking such as muffin and pancake (1 tbsp milled flax seed, plus 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). Final products will have less volume and taste gummier.
  • Include in other recipe when nutty flavor is preferred.
  • Substitute flax seed oil for other oils.

Sprouting flaxseed

  • Flaxseed sprouts are very high in oxalic acid (which binds calcium) and because of that, they have an extremely bitter taste. If that wasn’t discouragement enough, they are also gelatinous, which makes them hard to manage for most home sprouters. Also, one of the main benefits of flax, its soft fiber, which is great for soothing and cleansing the intestinal wall, disappears during germination.

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