Flaxseed, the superfood: this is how valuable it is for our health

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The competition is stiff: exotic superfoods come in a vast range. But the inconspicuous brown or yellow flaxseed can stand up for itself. Our little native digestive-aiding species is more powerful than it looks.

Flaxseed’s 5 superpowers

  • Helps prevent constipation
  • Contributes to a healthy weight-loss diet
  • Has an antioxidant effect
  • Helps cure hormonal complaints
  • Contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids

Flaxseed as a remedy

Flaxseed is the seed of the flax plant, which is also known as common flax or linseed. The flax plant has been cultivated since around 5000 BC and was, until the start of the 18th century, our most important textile raw material. As the botanical name Linum usitatissimum suggests, flax is a «most useful» plant. Flaxseed and the linseed oil it produces have been used as natural remedies since the times of the Ancient Greeks.

What are the benefits of flaxseed?

The active substances of the plant are found in the seed’s husk. This is rich in mucilage which is also responsible for the seed’s digestive properties. Mucilage binds the water in the intestinal tract and swells up, thereby enlarging the volume of the intestine and stimulating digestion. Although no studies on its healing effects have proved conclusive, this household remedy for constipation has been popular for centuries.

Flaxseed and weight loss

The larger the content of the stomach or intestine, the greater the feeling of fullness. Flaxseed expands greatly in volume and makes the body feel satiated. The longer this feeling lasts, the less we turn to snacks like crisps or sweets. It's therefore worth incorporating the small inconspicuous seed into your daily diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Flaxseed contains a relatively high amount of fat. But not to worry: it is mostly unsaturated fatty acids, i.e. the fatty acids that can lower cholesterol levels, for example. Besides omega-6 acids, it also contains plenty of omega-3 acids, which are also in found in fish. Omega-3 is said to have many health-promoting effects, such as having an antioxidant effect, preventing cardiovascular diseases and strengthening the immune system. If you’re not keen on the seeds, then you can also try flaxseed in oil form: the oil contains even more omega-3 acids than the seeds themselves.

Flaxseed whole or ground?

Flaxseed is sold either in whole grains or ground. Our body can better absorb the nutrients from ground flaxseed. Eating flaxseed in whole grains carries the "risk" of the body expelling them undigested, without absorbing the nutrients.

The disadvantage of ground flaxseed is that it spoils more quickly. By contrast, whole flaxseed grains keep for up to two years. It therefore makes sense to buy whole flaxseed grains and grind them when required with a spice or coffee grinder. Flaxseed is also used as a vegan substitute for eggs.

Flaxseed consumption

In order to benefit from the health-promoting effects of flaxseed, it is important to drink plenty of water. Otherwise the flaxseed can end up clogging the colon instead of stimulating digestion.

Nutrition table for ground flaxseed

Nutritional value per 100 g% of daily requirement per portion  
Energy 380 kcal 15%
Protein 23,3 g 40%
Fat
(of which polyunsaturated)
31,5 g
(25,63 g)
53%
Carbohydrates 0 g 0%
Calcium 234 mg 23%
Potassium 509 mg 13%
Iron 8,3 mg 67%
Vitamin E 16 mg 11%

Flaxseed recipes

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Flaxseed pudding, like overnight oats, is a nutritious breakfast.

Flaxseed pudding with fruit

Ingredients:
  • 120g ground flaxseed (8 tbsp)
  • 400ml almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • a little ground cinnamon
Method:
  1. Mix the ground flaxseed with the almond milk and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Stir the flaxseed pudding and spoon into a dish.
  3. Decorate with the sliced fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  4. Enjoy.

Flaxseed crisps

Ingredients:
  • 3 sheets of spring roll pastry
  • 60g flaxseed
  • a little rapeseed oil
superfood-leinsamen-salatchips.jpg
Flaxseed chips to decorate salads: recipe by Oscar de Matos, Restaurant Maihöfli
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and lay the spring roll pastry on it.
  2. Carefully brush a little rapeseed oil all over the pastry and sprinkle with flaxseed. Place another sheet of baking paper over the pastry and weigh down with a second baking tray.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes until crispy.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and leave to cool. Break into pieces.
  5. Halve the cos lettuces, marinate with the dressing. Garnish with the flaxseed chips and serve.
Sources:

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