Flax was first cultivated on a large scale between 4,000 and 2,000 BC in the areas around the Mediterranean. At the same time, flax was also being cultivated in certain parts of the Middle East. The first attempts to grow flax may have begun much earlier during the Neolithic era.
From the start, farmers grew flax both for food and for its fibers. The fibers are useful for making linen. Manufacturers use linen to make clothing and other textile products.
European colonists brought flax to the United States and cultivated it to provide fiber for clothing. Flax was in use all the way up to the 1990s for both linen and paper production. Food-grade flax seed oil is still used as a nutritional supplement and in animal feed.
Most of the world’s supply of oilseed flax comes from Canada. The rest comes from other leading producers like Russia and Argentina.
Flavor profile of flax seeds
The flavor of flax seeds is often described as being nutty, toasty and similar to the flavor of wheat germ. Golden flax seeds have a somewhat milder taste when compared to the dark flax seed. Despite the difference in flavor, the nutritional profiles or the two different flax seed types are similar.
It should be noted that rancidity can be a problem that affects how flax seeds taste. Many of the people who complain about flax seeds having a strong, unpleasant flavor are actually eating rancid seeds. When flax seeds go rancid, they take on a bitter and burnt taste. Flax seeds can start to go rancid due to light exposure. The seeds may also start breaking down if they get to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Health benefits of flax seeds
Flax seeds are a nutrient-dense food containing many of the compounds needed for good health. Those compounds include:
- Fatty acids: Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid and flax seeds contain a lot of it. Flax seeds are also an important plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega 3 fatty acids include linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.
- Vitamin E: Flax seeds are rich in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and helps to maintain cell membranes while also protecting them from free radicals.
- Vitamin B: Flax seeds are loaded with B-complex vitamin groups, including riboflavin, thiamin, and folates.
- Minerals: Flax seeds are an excellent source of manganese, potassium and calcium.
Flax seeds can help to prevent various health conditions including:
- High cholesterol: The fatty acids it contains can help to lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
- Cancer: Fatty acids from flax seeds also lower the risk of various cancers like cancer of the breast, colon, and prostate.
- Neural tube defects: The folates found in flax seeds can help to prevent defects in unborn children when eaten both before and during pregnancy.
You will have to grind flax seeds to get their nutritional benefits. Our bodies are unable to break down whole flax seeds and get the nutrients they contain.
Common uses of flax seeds
One of the popular ways to eat flax seeds is in cereals or in homemade granola. You can sprinkle them over your oatmeal or add them to your yogurt to provide a crunch. In addition, you can make an egg substitute by combining flax seeds and water. Because of their short shelf life, only grind exactly the amount of flax seeds that you need and use them immediately.