Flax – The Versatile Plant

Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are about 4 to 6.5cm long and 2 to 3mm wide. They are a flat, oval shape and, depending on the variety, have a yellow or brown shell. The seeds are extracted from the flax plant, which is also known as the linseed plant, and are harvested in August and September. Flax is a cultivated plant and has a lifespan of a year. It is cultivated for the production of flaxseed oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed fibre (linen). Some of the largest cultivation areas are in China, Russia, Egypt and France.

Food Facts Food Facts

Flaxseeds (whole)

Class

linum

Calories

475 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

10.8 g carbohydrates, 27.3 g fibre, 33.6 g fat, 17.9 g protein per 100 g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store in a sealed container, in a dry, dark place at room temperature (18-22°C)

Shelf life

6 months to 2 years

Flaxseeds – Whole or Ground?

Flaxseeds come whole or ground. When ground, the nutritious value of flaxseeds is easier for the body to absorb. However, the finer the seed is ground, the more susceptible it is to oxidation. It therefore goes off faster and has a shelf life of only 6 to 12 weeks.

Whole flaxseeds can keep up to 2 years if stored correctly. However, flaxseeds are excreted from the body practically whole and as a result, only a small fraction of the nutrients are absorbed. Another option is to buy flaxseeds whole and grind them yourself as and when you need them. A simple spice or coffee grinder can be used for this. The recommended daily dosage is about 2 tablespoons. Stale flaxseeds rarely mould but can become rancid and have a bitter taste, while fresh flaxseeds have a slightly nutty flavour.

Flaxseeds – From Morning to Night

Flaxseeds are a very versatile ingredient and can be incorporated into any mealtime. Sprinkle the seeds over your morning muesli with yoghourt or quark, or for lunch and dinner try a few on top of your soup or salad. Flaxseeds are a popular ingredient in bread and bread rolls. They taste especially good in homemade, wholemeal bread: add a handful of ground flaxseeds to your basic dough recipe – 1kg wholemeal flour (wheat or spelt), 1 cube of yeast, 1 tablespoon of salt and 600ml warm water.

Flaxseeds –Nutritional Value

From a nutritional point of view, flaxseeds are similar to chia seeds. Although they cannot be used to make pudding like chia seeds, they do however have soluble fibre that swells in water and then forms a pulp that acts as a lubricant for the digestive system. When eating flaxseeds, make sure to drink enough liquids.

Flaxseeds are known to contain plenty of good fats such as omega 3 and omega 6, which both support a healthy cholesterol balance. They are also rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are required for many bodily processes. For example, they contribute to healthy functioning muscles and the transmission of nerve impulses.

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