What Are Flax Seeds?
In ancient Mesopotamia, flax seeds were grown for their nutritional value. These seeds, also known as linseed, have valuable oils that even today attract the attention of many nutritionists.
They are from Linaceae family, botanically known as Linum usitatissimum. This annual plant grows in both tropical and subtropical climates. It can reach up to 1.5 meters tall, and when it flourishes, one can see little blue flowers that are very attractive. The plant contains brown or golden yellow seeds. There are two types of cultivars; one is grown for its oil seeds and the other for its fiber.
What you must know is that flax seeds are very high in calories; 100 grams of seeds contain 543 calories. Although one must keep in minds this fact, seeds are, on the other hand, great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other health-benefiting compounds.
One of the most important compounds is oleic acid. Apart from this acid, there are other omega- 3 essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, apha-linoleic acid, and arachidonic acids. Due to this monounsaturated fatty acid, the seeds are able to lower LDL cholesterol, and to increase HDL cholesterol. Omega – 3 acids also help with lowering blood pressure, and decrease the risk of strokes, coronary artery disease, colon, prostate and breast cancer. They are mandatory for normal infant development and for maturation of nervous system.
Due to the lignans they contain, they are great antioxidant food as well. On the other hand, they contain vitamin E, lipid soluble antioxidant that is necessary for skin protection and required for maintaining mucus membranes.
Seeds are rich with niacin thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folates.
Manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium are all present is flax seeds as well.
As for the side effects, flax seeds can cause stomach pain, and laxative diarrhea when eaten in large amounts. Apart from this, they have no harmful effects on health when used in moderation.