Flaxseed, Linum usitatissiumum, is one of the original “health food” plants, traditionally grown and used for its healing properties since the Roman Empire. It is found in many forms including cracked or whole flaxseeds, flax meal, flaxseed oil, or flaxseed powder. Flaxseed oil is the best source of the omega-3 fatty acid alphalinolenic acid (ALA), and is a good source of omega-6. Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraines. Flaxseeds are more nutritious than their oil because they contain some protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and lignins, which have antioxidant actions and may help protect against certain cancers. Flaxseeds can be ground fresh and sprinkled on food, or bought pre-ground as flaxseed meal. Yet, the oil is preferred for its omega-3 fatty acids, and for practical purposes, as it is the easiest to use either in liquid or capsule form. Taking the oil with a meal can increase the nutritional value of other foods. Flax also helps your body by: promoting cardiovascular and colon health, being used as a natural lubricant and rich fiber source to lower the risk of constipation, and providing fatty acids that increase the body’s metabolic rate and burn excess unhealthy fats. Add a tablespoon of flax oil or 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal to your daily health regime and notice the difference. This seed may be tiny, but it is mighty.
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