Flax seeds: A Friend Indeed

What is it?

Flax seeds are derived from the flax plant, a crop that supplies both food and fibre. Other uses for the flax plant include flax fibres, which are derived from the stem of the plant and when spun into cloth, the material is anywhere from two to three times stronger than cotton. The flax plant is also used in the creation of linseed oil, an important ingredient in non-edible products such as varnish and paints, as well as ink and linoleum.

CAUTION! Flax seeds should not be confused with flaxseed, which is the name of an oil processed from flax seeds. Flaxseed is functionally similar to fish oil, with blood thinning properties. Do NOT consume flaxseed without a doctor’s recommendation. Flaxseed is known to worsen existing blood conditions, and affect those on high blood pressure medication.

Why is it so special?

 Flaxseed is rich in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, and has a high glycemic index (GI)—three attributes that make it invaluable to those who are looking for a natural food-based palliative to their existing medical conditions, or an all-natural supplement to their diet. In addition to this, it also contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a fatty acid that is believed to help those with heart disease and other heart-related problems.

Who is this suitable for?

Flax seeds are suitable for those with high blood pressure or heart problems. If you’re having trouble keeping your blood sugar under control, this might just be the perfect food for those who want to look after their blood sugar. Its high fat and low carb content means that energy slowly releases into the blood stream, ensuring that blood sugar remains level and isn’t spiking rapidly.

Those on a low-carb or no-carb diet should consider adding flax seeds to their diet if they need to make up for the lack of calorie intake—these diets usually encourage the consumption of more fat, protein, and fibre than regular diets, making it the perfect accompaniment to fend off carb cravings. 

When should I eat this?

Flax seeds can be eaten at any time of the day, but watch your calories! They are extremely high in fat content, with a tablespoon of flax seeds weighing in at a whopping 5 grams of fat, making it unsuitable as grazing or a casual snack food. Supplementing them with your daily meals would be a good choice, as the taste might take some getting used to initially.

How is it usually served?

As per the previous point, it is easy to get carried away with eating flax seeds. They should be taken sparingly and not eaten in abundance due to their high fat content; introducing them as garnishing on top of your favourite rice-based dish, salad, or even yogurt would be a good start.

If you are eating flax seeds by themselves, it is important to chew them thoroughly as the flax seed’s husks cannot be dissolved by the acid in your stomach and will pass through undigested if just swallowed.