Flax or Linum usitatissimum is an annual plant which contains seeds that have an absolute right to be declared as “the seeds of health” since, despite their small size, flax seeds are endowed with numerous medicinal and nutritional properties. Their medicinal use has been known since the ancient times. More specifically, flax seeds were used by the people of Babylon and the ancient Greeks, mostly for bread and as medicine to treat gastrointestinal conditions. Flax seeds are rich in B vitamins, minerals (phosphorus, calcium, selenium, copper and magnesium) and healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). Omega-3 fatty acids make up almost half of the fats found in flax seeds, which makes these seeds the best plant source of fatty acids and they are an excellent alternative to fish oil. However, in order to have health benefits from flax seeds, we need to grind them before consummation.
Flax seeds, rich in mucus and oil, are one of the best known natural remedies for constipation and chronic constipation also, but various other gastrointestinal conditions. Mucus is extracted from the seeds by soaking in warm water overnight and it can be used as a natural laxative which neither damages the intestines nor makes them lazy. Flax seeds assist in weight loss since other than being rich in vitamins and minerals we need when losing weight, they also contain healthy fats and fiber which help cleanse the body, speeding up the metabolism and giving us a feeling of the full stomach. The same fats, i.e. omega-3 fatty acids, protect our body from cardiovascular diseases, reduce inflammation and bring down bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol).
A research in Iowa has shown that cholesterol levels can be reduced to 10 % in a 3-month period of taking 3 teaspoons of flax seeds which supported the claims that flax seeds are an excellent natural remedy in the fight against high cholesterol. Therefore, all people who have this problem should consider including flax into their everyday diet. Furthermore, flax is a great remedy for menstrual cramps and reducing symptoms of menopause. Studies have shown flax seeds to be helpful for treating high blood pressure, reducing plaque build-up on the arterial walls, while flaxseed oil doesn’t seem to have the same effect. It has also been reported that flaxseeds prevent and kill breast cancer including some other types of cancer like prostate and colon cancer.
Use of flaxseed oil is a perfect tool to accelerate gallstone removal and to strengthen the immune system.
You can also use it to season meals, however, if used in cooking, flaxseed oil should not be exposed to heat, otherwise, it’ll lose its medicinal properties. Moreover, when taking flaxseed oil you should also pay attention to side effects and warnings. Flaxseed oil is not to be used by people who use antiplatelet (anticoagulants) drugs, people with liver or kidney problems. Apart from oral use, flaxseed oil is also used in cosmetics to treat dry and damaged hair and skin.
Flax can be found in almost any supermarket or a health food store. You can buy whole or ground flax seed and it comes in two types – golden and brown. If flax is already ground, it has a shorter expiration date, but it is definitively easier to use. It is recommended to take 2 teaspoons of ground flax seeds to notice health benefits. Ground flax seeds can be mixed with yogurt, shakes, bread or cake flour, added to your favorite salad or just mixed with a glass of lukewarm water. If you like the nutty aroma of flax seeds, make sure to enrich your recipes with this superfood because it really works miracles on the entire body. So, as you see, ground flax seeds can actually „slip” into almost any type of food.
Translation: G. Dujmović