Flaxseeds have a long and extensive history. Originating in Mesopotamia, the flax plant has been known since the Stone Ages. One of the first records of the culinary use of flaxseeds is from times of ancient Greece. In both that civilization and in ancient Rome, the health benefits of flaxseeds were widely praised.
Flax seeds are beneficial to almost every system in our body which includes the nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, immune system, and circulatory system. Their natural properties offer hundreds of health benefits that make them a magic herbal remedy. Some of these benefits include:
- Curing colon and breast cancer
- Curing skin problems such as acne and eczema
- Curing asthma and diabetes
- Lowering high blood pressure
- Curing rheumatoid arthritis
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Strengthening the immune system
- Healing sprains and bruises
- Fighting obesity
- Treating dandruff
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. They are a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese. They are also a good source of folate and vitamin B6 as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Flaxseed meal and flour provides a very good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals, help relieve constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
Flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium, which helps to reduce the severity of asthma by keeping airways relaxed and open, lowers high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, prevents the blood vessel spasm that leads to migraine attacks, and generally promotes relaxation and restores normal sleep patterns.
The researchers also found that omega-3s from nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils-such as walnuts and flaxseed-had just as much impact on blood pressure as omega-3s from fish.
Flaxseeds can be purchased either whole or already ground. The two different forms offer distinct benefits. Although ground flaxseeds may be more convenient, whole flaxseeds feature a longer shelf life.
Whole flaxseeds are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the flaxseeds are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure their maximal freshness. Whether purchasing flaxseeds in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. If you purchase whole flaxseeds, store them in an airtight container in a dark, dry and cool place where they will keep fresh for several months.
Flaxseed oil is especially perishable and should be purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated. Flaxseed oil should have a sweet nutty flavor. Never use flaxseed oil in cooking; add it to foods after they have been heated.