One of Flax’s biggest contributions to our health is it’s fiber content. This is great because most Americans do not get the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
Flax is also a good source of Omega 3’s. However, it’s important to note that the Omega 3’s found in flaxseeds are linoleic acid and not EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) forms of omega 3 that our bodies use. Our bodies can convert linoleic acids into DHA but not very efficiently.
Flaxseeds also contain certain antioxidants called phytoestrogens. These chemicals can help women in at least two ways. It can block the reabsorbtion of estrogen into the gut, which can lower a woman’s risk for developing ovarian and other estrogen linked cancers like breast cancer. Lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, can also alter the way our bodies (both men and women) use estrogen so that it can be metabolized into a safer form.
The oil is called Flaxseed oil or Linseed oil. It contains the same benefits as the seeds but it does not have the fiber or the lignans so you may be better off with the flaxseeds themselves. You should grind them up when you eat them since eating the seeds whole makes them virtually indigestible. Pre-ground seeds get oxidized pretty fast and you end up losing a lot of the health benefits the longer it sits on the store shelf so grind up the seeds on your own using a coffee grinder. Eat about two teaspoons per day. It’s great with a bowl of oatmeal (which also has phytoestrogens), yogurt, or in pancake batter if you’re making pancakes. It can be a topping on peanut and other nut butter sandwiches too.