The blue-flowered flax plant has been grown for centuries, to be eaten, to make flaxseed oil, to make paint, as well as clothes and fishnets. But flax is having a second coming of sorts, with the flax seeds getting attention for its health properties and being hailed as the new super food.
Flax seeds are the whole seed of the flax plant. Appearance-wise, they are tiny and brown in colour, bearing a slight resemblance to black sesame seeds, with a shiny surface. When consumed whole, they are crunchy and have a nutty flavour.
This tiny seed does a world of good to your diet and body. Flax seeds are a rich source of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, lignans and antioxidants. Together, these nutrients help with a range of ailments, from inflammation to diabetes.
The omega-3 fatty acids present in flax seeds contain a component called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which help with inflammation. They block the release of inflammatory agents within the body, which helps patients who suffer from arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.The anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants also help heart patients: they are known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries.
Lignans found in flax seeds help reduce the risk of different forms of cancer, including and prostrate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. Lignans have the ability to alter the way the body metabolizes certain hormones, protecting the body against tumours that are hormone sensitive, like estrogen-linked breast cancer. Flax seeds are also a wonder food for older women, as they reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Just a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseeds can lead to over 50% drop in the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
Diabetics can also benefit from the lignans present in flaxseeds, since they help improve blood sugar levels in type-2 diabetic.
While flax seeds taste great in their whole form and look wonderful sprinkled over salads, they are best consumed in ground or powdered form. Whole flaxseeds have an impermeable coating, so they may pass through your digestive system, and you will not absorb any of its numerous benefits. While flaxseed oil is a rich source of ALA, it does not contain the fibre and lignans present in the whole seeds- which gives you more reason to eat the seeds in their ground form.
You should also make it a point to grind flax seeds fresh each time you wish to consume them, since pre-ground flax seed powder has a tendency to spoil or oxidize quickly. If you do not own a coffee grinder, a mortar and pestle works just as well!
This recipe uses ground flax seeds, oats and whole-wheat atta to create a tasty, healthy nibble.
SEEMA CHANDRA’S GUILT-FREE WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS
Recipe servings: 6
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
- 1/2 cup ground oats
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 4 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp red chilli pepper flakes
- Sea salt to flavor
- 1 and 1/2 tsp oil
- Chilled water
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C, and keep a baking tray aside.
- Grind the oats and the flax seeds together. Then mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add olive oil and knead till it becomes a ball. Add a little chilled water if necessary to make the dough come together.
- Next, roll out the dough. Make little roundels with a cookie cutter or the lid of a bottle.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Cool completely before serving.