Worth its weight in gold

Aaahhhh, the golden hue of flax! Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet as it shows some evidence that it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Whether you consume this as a seed, or its oil form, flax has benefited many people in a variety of ways. Not bad for such a small seed that was around as early as 3000 BC.

Flaxseeds contain a group of nutrients called lignans, which contain powerful antioxidant and estrogen properties that may help prevent breast and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancer. In fact, flax seeds contain up to 800 more lignans than other plant food sources.

Flax is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the two essential fatty acids that you have to obtain from the foods you eat, as your body doesn’t produce them. This makes them a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish.

Studies done on animals have shown that the ALA in flaxseeds prevented cholesterol from depositing in the blood vessels of the heart, reduced inflammation in the arteries and reduced tumour growth.

Just a single tablespoon provides protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of some vitamins and minerals.

Another great fact about flax is, in its ground up form, it’s a fabulous fibre source, containing both soluble and insoluble fibres. These are beneficial in supporting the colon and achieving regular bowel movements. The insoluble fibre also supports digestion keeping you feeling full longer, as well as reducing blood sugar, which is beneficial to diabetics.

Keep in mind though, flax seed oil and ground flax seed are both very vulnerable to both light and heat. Keep the oil in the fridge and do not cook with it, as heating it makes it rancid. Rather drizzle it on foods after cooking, or use it in a salad dressing. Ground flax ideally should be ground and consumed, but seeing that most of us don’t have too much spare time, an alternative is to grind some up and store it in a container in your freezer, taking it out as needed. Add some to a smoothie, your bowl of yogurt or cereal, or sprinkle on your foods once cooked. Its nutty taste is fantastic and its health benefits are astounding!