Flax - Linum Usitatissimum
Flax is a slender plant with narrow leaves and beautiful blue flowers with five petals.
Flax has been cultivated for more than seven thousand years. The flax plant thrives in most parts of the world. It is an annual plant. The seeds are planted in the spring and harvested in late summer when the fruit (capsules) are about one cm and filled with flat oval shaped seeds.
There are two main types of flax. The tall type is mainly grown for fiber is known as long-stacked flax. Fiber from the flax plants is used to make linen.
The shorter type known as “crown flax” is grown for the seeds. The flax seeds from the flax plant have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
These plants need drained sandy soil and lots of sun.
Flax is used for a great variety of different items. The word “Usitatissimum” means “most useful”.
Seeds in Cooking
Flax seeds have a nice nutty flavor.
Use the newly grounded flax seeds in smoothies, yogurt, cereals, and salads or whatever. Use your imagination. Flax seeds can be used so many different ways.
Ground flax seeds do not keep its nutritional values for too long. That is why it is always a better choice to grind your own flax seeds if you can. Ground flax seeds can be stored in airtight containers for about six months without losing its nutritional values.
Flax seeds can be used instead of eggs in baking. This is wonderful news for people who are allergic to eggs. To substitute one egg: mix one tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of water. Put the mixture in the refrigerator until it is thick (about fifteen minutes). This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for maximum two weeks.
Crushed flax seeds can be used in bread, pancakes, muffins and cakes. Try banana bread with flax seeds, it is truly yummy!
Roasted flax seeds have been used as a coffee substitute during financially hard times.
Eating whole flax seeds will not give you any health benefits. The whole seeds will just slide right through your body as the digestive system will not be able to break through the outer layer of the seeds. For health benefits always choose grounded flax seeds.
Flax seed is beyond doubt the best vegetable source of omega-3 essential fatty oil. Flax seed may be a good alternative for people who eat too little fish.
Omega-3 oil has cancer fighting properties. That surely is one great reason to include flax seeds in your diet.
Omega-3 is of value to the heart as it helps protect it and reduces heart irregularities.
Flax seeds have a positive impact on reducing the harmful cholesterol.
Flax seed is very high on fiber. This aids stabilizing the blood sugar levels in the body.
Grounded flax seed can be used to reduce hot flashes in women during menopause.
Flax seed tea has been used to treat sore throats and hoarseness. Adding lemon and honey to flax seed tea works well. One teaspoon of grounded flax seed is enough for one cup of tea. Add the hot water to the grounded teaspoon of flax seed and let it steep for about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
The health benefits of eating flax seed has been known for ages. Charlemagne issued a decreed that flax seeds should be eaten by all to maintain good health.
Only cold pressed flax seed oil is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Flax seed oil may be used to relieve dry skin. It is also used on other skin problems as burns, sores and psoriasis.
Heated flax seed oil is used in paint production and flooring. The residue of flax seeds left over after the oil has been processed is used to make flax seed cake for animal food. This is a very important nutritional supplement for cattle.
Flax seeds come both as golden colored and brown colored. The brown colored flax seeds are more common. The golden colored flax seeds contain a little more oil than the brown ones. The nutritional values are about the same. The golden flax seeds are often more expensive than the brown flax seeds. Always try to buy organically grown flax seeds whenever possible.