What is flaxseed?
Flaxseed is literally the seed of the flax plant, a plant that originated in the Middle East and is now grown in both the U.S. and Canada. Many people use flaxseed as a supplement, grinding it up and sprinkling it onto cereal or stirring it into yogurt, for example. Flaxseed contains soluble fiber (a type of fiber that may help to lower both cholesterol and blood glucose), insoluble fiber (which promotes digestive health), antioxidants, and alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of fatty acid that may help lower the risk of heart disease. Some research indicates that flaxseed may lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, and may even help improve blood glucose control. According to the Flax Council of Canada, one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day is a suggested dose. But you should check with your healthcare provider before using this and to discuss a dose that’s best for you. Also, you need to grind up flaxseed before you eat it in order to derive its benefits. You can purchase flaxseed already ground, or grind it yourself, using a coffee grinder. Flaxseed is sometimes added to foods that you purchase in the supermarket, like cereals, breads, pasta, crackers and energy bars. You can add flaxseed to just about anything, and even use it when baking. Store ground flaxseed in the freezer, and whole flaxseed in a cool, dry place.