The facts about flax

By: Lisa Morrone, PT

Okay, so had anyone even heard of flax seeds half a dozen years ago? These little seeds lived out their lives in relative obscurity likely because they resemble burnt sesame seeds or a part of the birdseed mix we fill our feeders with. But all that changed the day someone discovered they had a highly redeeming value—and flavor wasn’t it!

Flax seed moved from the shadows into the health spotlight when these tiny seeds were found to be a powerful source of omega 3 fatty acids, a heart disease and dementia-fighting powerhouse.

Quickly joining the ranks of other omega-3 celebrities—walnuts and salmon—people began sprinkling tiny flax seeds onto their cereal and adding them to their bread recipes. The commercial food industry responded quickly. Soon supermarkets were offering multigrain breads, cereals, and chips with whole flax seeds added to them. But therein lays the problem. We rushed into the flax seed craze so quickly that an important fact was overlooked; one which rendered all those flax seeds nearly powerless.

You see, our bodies don’t do such a great job of breaking through the black outer shell of the flax seed. Without access to the seed’s “internal organs”, all those omega 3’s stay locked inside unable to deliver their nutritional punch. The solution to this dilemma is to consume ground flax seeds, rather than whole seeds.

On your next visit to the grocery store carefully read the ingredient labels of products touting “omega-3 power” from flax seeds. What you want to find are the words “flax seed flour” or “ground flax seed”. This way you can be assured that your flax seed-enhanced selection will provide you with all the omega-3’s that can be ground out of it!

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