Good for you: Get the Facts on Flax!
Flaxseed is one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also the richest plant source of lignans (antioxidants), helping to prevent breast and colon cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help ease the symptoms of menopause. Flax may also help delay the progression of diabetes and kidney disease, and the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
With so many benefits, you’d think we’d all be eating flax. However, most people just don’t realize how good flax is, or how good it tastes. There are currently no guidelines for how much flax to consume daily, but suggested amounts range from one to four tablespoons per day. Breakfast is a great time to enjoy it because the seed’s nutty flavour and texture are similar to whole wheat, and work well in a variety of common morning meals, including quick breads, muffins, and waffles (see recipe this issue). An easy way to do this is to replace some of the flour in your baked goods with flax. You can also leave out some of the oil because the seeds are so high in fat. Just remember that flaxseeds need to be ground in order for your body to digest them. You can easily grind them yourself in a spice or coffee grinder – they should reach an almost flourlike consistency.
When shopping, if you buy flax pre-ground, the package will be labelled either “ground flaxseed” or “flaxseed meal”. Choose one that is pure and not combined with flour. And because it is high in fat, flaxseed (whether whole or ground) should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Whole seeds will keep for up to one year, while ground flaxseed will keep for three to four months. As with cooking oils, smell the flax before cooking with it – if it smells a bit like oil paint, it’s probably gone bad.