People, nowadays, are more conscious of their food choices. They try to find new food items that can contribute significantly to a healthier way of eating. New kinds of food (most are all natural and have a long list of health benefits) have been dubbed as “superfoods” and that list is ever growing. However, only a few of those “superfoods” have been around long enough to be golden standards on that list. One superfood, albeit tiny, has been around for centuries and has always made it to the list as one of the most powerful plant based foods on the planet.
King of Superfoods
Flaxseed comes from the plant Linum usitatissimum, a member of the 180-200 species strong Linum family. It occurs in two varieties: brown and yellow (or golden) flaxseeds. Both varieties have a similar nutritional profile. Flaxseed’s origins can be traced to as early as 3000 BC in ancient Babylon. Its many health benefits has been exalted by kings. In fact, the great King Charlemagne was believed to be such a huge fan of this superfood that he even passed laws that require all his subjects to consume flaxseed. Now, you’ll find flaxseed in all kinds of food from biscuits to breakfast cereals and even smoothies.
Packs a nutritional punch
Flaxseed’s power packed nutritional profile contains a long list of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that make it one of the most nutritious foods available. However, these three things are the top components that give flaxseed its coveted health benefits.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids (the "good" fats): approx 1.8 grams/ tablespoon
Flaxseed contains ALA or alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is one of the essential omega-3 fatty acids that converts into DHA and EPA -- more active omega-3s -- in the body. The body doesn’t produce ALA, so you’d have to get them from a food source...and flaxseed is an excellent source of ALA. It has been known to reduce the risk of heart disease by 14%. It can also reduce the risk of strokes and can lower cholesterol levels. There are other benefits, too. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed can improve brain health and digestive health. It also keeps the hair and skin healthy.
Lignans: 75 to 800 times more lignans compared to other plant food.
Lignans are plant compounds which have both plant oestrogen and antioxidant qualities. It can help reduce the risk of certain cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil has been found to improve the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats.
Fiber: 1.9g/ tablespoon
Flaxseed has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed’s high fibre content combined with phytosterols, and omega-3 makes it great for improving heart health. It also encourages healthy digestion by improving the absorption of nutrients. Fibre also helps keep you full, longer and encourages regular bowel movement so it is a natural weight loss aid.