“Fiber. A lot has been written about fiber. It keeps our digestive tract from getting clogged with mucus, toxic materials, and metabolic wastes. It keeps our colon swept and moving. Fiber is necessary for intestine and colon health. It feeds and maintains a healthy intestinal flora made up of friendly little bacteria and yeasts that make some of our vitamins and protect us from unfriendly intestinal ‘bugs’. A healthy colon minimizes release of toxins back into our blood. Healthy blood means that we may live long enough to reach a wise (or foolish) old age.
Fiber also lowers blood cholesterol, because it prevents cholesterol and bile acids from being reabsorbed into our body from our intestine. Cholesterol and bile acids attach to fiber, and are carried out of our body into the toilet with solid wastes. Fiber also softens stools, prevents constipation, and maintains regularity. Flax is an excellent source of fiber.”
Excerpt from Fats that Heal Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus
Not only is flax an excellent source of fiber but it also has many additional benefits. Let’s start by looking at the nutrients it contains. Flax:
· Is a rich source of magnesium and potassium.
· Is a good source of zinc.
· Is a good source of easily digestible protein.
· This protein actually contains all the essential amino acids therefore it is the richest in the vegetable sources.
Note it is low on lysine and methionine so supplementing with other sources of these would be beneficial.
· Contains the richest source of vegetal Omega-3’s, linolenic acid (LNA)
Note: According to Paul Pitchford’s book Healing with Whole Foods, “It is estimated that modern Westerners consume only 1/5th the amount of omega-3’s found in traditional diets.”
· Seeds have the highest concentration of the phyto-estrogen lignans of any other food. (Note these are removed during conversion to oil.) “Lignans are building blocks of plant cell walls that, when eaten, break down into enterolactones and enterodiol, which have potent anticancer and estrogenic effects,” according to Christine Northrup, M.D.
All this equates to the following benefits:
· The fiber in the seeds and meal lubricate the intestines and are therefore helpful for people that suffer from constipation.
· Ground flax seeds, with its’ mucilaginous properties, which allow it to become soft and jellylike, sooths and therefore acts as an intestinal cleanser and bowel regulator.
· The seeds also help people with sluggish digestion.
· Due to the Omega-3’s, flax helps to strengthen the immune system.
· Can aid in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
· Can help to stabilize blood glucose levels.
· Can be beneficial for cardiovascular health.
So what is it like, how do you purchase it, and how do you consume it?
Flax tends to be quite volatile, meaning it has the potential to become rancid easily. Only purchase flax that has been out of the light and refrigerated at all times. If purchasing the oil, make sure the method of production is cold pressed and without exposure to oxygen and light and (again) has been refrigerated at all times. Commercial linseed (denatured flax seed) is highly refined and may actually do more harm than good so really check your sources! Last, always look for organic sources.
I prefer to purchase the seeds themselves, keep them in the refrigerator, and grind them in a coffee grinder when I am going to use them. (Small coffee grinders are less than $20 so it is worth purchasing a separate one just for your flax.) I find the oil, even when processed properly, tends to go rancid easily. Good flax seed or oil has a nice sweet nutty taste. If you find otherwise, chances are your product has already started to spoil!
One of the nice advantages is that flax is cheap! I can purchase a 16 ounce bag of seeds for about $2.00. How great is that?
As for how you use it, here are the general guidelines. If you are healthy and just wanting to enhance your diet, take about three tablespoons of the seeds daily. Remember the seeds have a very hard shell which will not digest so you must grind the seeds to get their benefits. It mixes easily with either water or juice. I add the ground seeds to my protein drink or mix it with the Greens First. Since part of its’ intestinal benefit is to clean the intestines, it will absorb five times its weight in water so make sure you consume plenty of water when you take it.
If using the oil, it is suggested for healthy people to consume about two teaspoons per day. With its’ nutty flavor, it is a great source of oil for your salads. You can also add this to any protein drink or greens. Just remember that heat is bad for it so never cook with it.
If you are using it for specific medical purposes, I suggest you do your research. The aforementioned information comes from the following list of books; all of which offer more specific quantities for specific health conditions.
If you would like additional information on the benefits of Omega-3’s, you might like to read this article.