Energetics of Flaxseeds: More Than A Seed

Did you know that Charlemagne himself was a huge fan of flaxseeds?  He was so impressed with the versatility of the flaxseed (it can be used as food, medicine, and as a source of fiber in linen) that he created and passed laws that required its cultivation and consumption.

The earliest farming and consumption of flaxseed happened in Mesopotamia around the Stone Age. There are even records of it being used in Ancient Greece. The botanical name for flax is linum usitatissimum, which means most useful.  A most apt name for this multitasking seed.

Varieties

There are 2 main varieties of flaxseeds.  Flaxseeds are a bit larger than sesame seeds and they have a hard outer shell. Flaxseeds can be purchased as whole seeds, ground into a meal, or as oil. Flaxseeds are available all year round.

Yellow and Golden flaxseeds are used mostly for culinary uses.  When buying flaxseed at the store, this is the variety available.

Brown flaxseed is used mostly in the production of paint (as an oil additive) and linen.  It is also used as cattle feed.

How to Choose and Store

Flaxseeds are usually stored in either bulk bins or are prepackaged. If you platoon buying bulk always make sure that the store has a quick turnover of inventory and that the bins have a good seal. Always check to make sure there is no moisture gathering as that can lead to rotting and mold.

To extend the shelf life of your flaxseed I suggest buying it whole.  Whole flaxseed stay fresher longer than pre-ground seeds. Whole flaxseed needs to be stored in an airtight container and put in a cool, dark, dry place (like the fridge). If stored properly flaxseeds will stay fresh up to 3 months.  If you wish to extend the life, you can store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If you are buying flaxseed oil make sure you get cold-pressed or organic.  It should be stored in an opaque bottle and stored in the fridge.

How to Properly Use Flaxseeds

Always grind flaxseeds before serving.  In order to allow the digestion and absorption of nutrients from flaxseeds, they need to be ground to break their hard shells. You can find flax seeds pre-ground or you can buy whole seeds (which have a longer shelf life) and use a coffee grinder at home.

Nutrition

Flaxseeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is an easy to use form of energy for the body, it inhibits inflammatory compounds,  and is also essential for proper skin function. Diets rich in ALA are associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Flaxseeds are also a great source of lignan phytoestrogens, this is a phytonutrient that is converted into 2 hormone-like substances, enterolactone and enterodiol.  These hormone-like substances demonstrate a number of protective functions against breast cancer.  Flaxseeds are a good source of dietary fiber, containing both insoluble and soluble fiber. Therefore, they have been found to have a laxative effect decreasing constipation and increasing the number of bowel movements. Flaxseeds are also a good source of free-radical-scavenging manganese and copper, as well as bone-building phosphorus.

Energetics

Flaxseeds are neutral, so they are neither warming or cooling, and they have a sweet flavor.  Flaxseeds can be used as a laxative or to relieve pain and inflammation.  They influence the spleen-pancreas and colon. As a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are great for boosting immunity and cleaning the heart and arteries of plaque.

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer with cold water to remove bitterness until water runs clear and is no longer frothy.
  2. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir quinoa and salt into the milk; simmer over medium-low heat until much of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir maple syrup and lemon zest into the quinoa mixture. Gently fold blueberries into the mixture.
  3. Divide quinoa mixture between 2 bowls; top each with 1 teaspoon ground flax seeds to serve.

Source