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What is flax seed?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology
Flaxseed is an inexpensive source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which is a healthy type of fat. Flaxseed can be found in health food stores and some supermarkets. If they are eaten whole, the seeds pass through the digestive tract undigested. Flaxseed must be ground (as in a dedicated coffee grinder) in order to release the omega-3 fatty acids. They can be ground and sprinkled upon foods. An average serving size of these pleasant, nutty-tasting seeds is 1/4 cup (48 grams), which contains 140 calories and 6 grams of fiber. Flaxseed is best stored in the refrigerator. If it is purchased ready-ground, it is susceptible to decay.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

Flax seed comes from the flax plant and also produces a vegetable oil called linseed oil and flax oil. Flax seed, either powdered or ground, is rich in fiber and makes a useful digestive aid. It also contains both antioxidants and a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the body but often lacking in the mainstream American diet. Some nutritionists think a deficiency of omega-3s can cause heart disease, arthritis, eczema, asthma, breast cancer and macular degeneration.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a plant native to the Mediterranean that has been used as a food item for well over 5,000 years. Although whole flaxseeds contain a toxic glycoside, it is detoxified by eating.

Flaxseeds are shaped like sesame seeds, but are slightly larger and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their color ranges from deep amber to reddish brown depending upon whether the flax is of the golden or brown variety. The flaxseed's flavor is warm and earthy with a subtly nutty edge. While whole flaxseeds feature a soft crunch, they are usually not consumed whole but rather ground, since this allows for the enhancement of their nutrient absorption. Ground flaxseeds can have a relatively mealy texture with a potential hint of crunch depending upon how fine they are ground.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.