Article courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and written by Eve Kalinik.
These tiny seeds may fall short in size, but they’re big in terms of benefits.
One of the most notable facts about flax is that the seeds are considered to be one of the highest sources of ALA, a type of plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. These are necessary for myriad processes in the body, including helping to manage inflammation and support cardiovascular health. This type of omega-3 is different to the ones in fish oil that contain EPA and DHA fatty acids. Studies show that, depending on your gender, you may convert more or less ALA into EPA or DHA components – women seem to have higher levels than men. It is crucial that we get enough of these and we should try to obtain them from different sources.
From a gut perspective, flaxseeds give a welcome boost, as they provide fibre that feeds our beneficial gut microbes. This has a positive knock-on effect, as the microbes can produce more anti-inflammatory substances like butyrate and, as research is starting to show, potentially increase out output of positive mood neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
The mucilage gel-forming fibre that flaxseeds provide helps keep things moving along nicely in the bowel too. Flaxseeds are a good source of lignans and are considered a phytoestrogen foods, which means they may have an influence on hormones, mimicking and moderating the effects of oestrogen in the body. This can be beneficial during menopause, although, if you have any type of hormonal condition, you may need to check with a practitioner before you introduce flax regularly into your diet.
When it comes to eating flaxseeds, and to really tap into their benefits, it is best to grind or sprout them. In their whole raw form, the seeds pass through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, so try to grind from fresh using a coffee or spice grinder, and store in the fridge as they can go rancid. Flax is brilliant in Bircher muesli or stirred into yogurt with a lick of raw honey, but they also work as an excellent substitute for eggs if you need to bind in a vegan or egg-free dish.
Grind – Use a De’Longhi Coffee Grinder that can give you freshly ground flaxseeds in a flash. Remember to store your ground seeds in an airtight container in the fridge.
Baked – Flaxseeds can give a delicious boost of flavour in a simple loaf. Try Biona Organic Rye, Chia and Flaxseed Bread.
Seeds – You could buy whole seeds from the supermarket and grind at home but, for pre-ground, try Linwoods Sprouted Milled Organic Flaxseed.