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Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) (binomial name: Linum usitatissimum) is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. Flax seeds come in two basic varieties, brown and yellow or golden, with most types having similar nutritional values and equal amounts of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The warm, earthy and subtly nutty flavour of flaxseeds combined with an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids makes them an increasingly popular addition to the diets of many a health conscious consumer.
Whole and ground flaxseeds, as well as flaxseed oil, are available throughout the year. Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their colour ranges from deep amber to reddish brown depending upon whether the flax is of the golden or brown variety. While whole flaxseeds feature a soft crunch, the nutrients in ground seeds are more easily absorbed.
Roasted flax seeds
These are whole seeds which have been dry roasted to increase the crunchiness and shelf life.
Powdered flax seeds- the roasted flax seeds can be dry ground into powder in a blender.
Ground flaxseeds can have a relatively mealy texture with a potential hint of crunch depending upon how fine they are ground. Grinding flaxseeds in a coffee or seed grinder tends to enhance their digestibility and therefore their nutritional value. If adding ground flaxseeds to a cooked cereal or grain dish, do so at the end of cooking since the soluble fiber in the flaxseeds can thicken liquids if left too long.
How to select
Flaxseeds can be purchased either whole or already ground. Whether purchasing flaxseeds in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. It is highly recommended to purchase ground flaxseed that is in a vacuum-sealed package or has been refrigerated since once flaxseeds are ground, they are much more prone to oxidation and spoilage.
· Ground flax seeds can also be mixed in with oatmeal, yogurt, water (similar to Metamucil), or any other food item where a nutty flavor is appropriate. Flax seed sprouts are edible, with a slightly spicy flavor. Excessive consumption of flax seeds can cause diarrhea
· Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal.
· Add flaxseeds to your homemade muffin, cookie or bread recipe.
· To pump up the nutritional volume of your breakfast milk shake, add ground flaxseeds.
· To give cooked vegetables a nuttier flavor, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on top of them.
· Add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies.
How to store
Flax seeds are chemically stable while whole, and milled flaxseed can be stored at least 4 months at room temperature with minimal or no changes in taste, smell, or chemical markers of rancidity. . If you purchase whole flaxseeds, store them in an airtight container in a dark, dry and cool place where they will keep fresh for several months. Ground flaxseed can go rancid at room temperature in as little as one week. Refrigeration and storage in sealed containers will keep ground flax from becoming rancid for even longer
· One hundred grams of ground flax seed supplies about 450 kilo-calories, 41 grams of fat, 28 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of protein
· Flax seeds contain high levels of lignans and Omega-3 fatty acids. Lignans may benefit the heart and possess anti-cancer properties. Omega-3 fats are used to produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
· Flaxseed meal and flour provides a very good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis.