Is ground flaxseed healthier than whole flaxseed?
Flaxseed is known to be highly nutritious, both the yellow and the brown variety. It has been traditionally been used to make the oldest commercial oil, popularly called linseed oil. This oil is used till date, as a drying agent while painting or varnishing. Flaxseed can be consumed as a nut too.
Nutritionally, flaxseed is indeed high ranked. It contains omega 3 fatty acids, lignans - a type of phytochemical and a large amount of fiber. Together, they are proven to work on blood cholesterol and help lower LDL levels in the blood. Consequently, they can lower the risk of heart ailments considerably. They are also a natural cure for constipation. While flaxseed oil also has the nutritional value, it looses out on the fiber content. It is thus much better to consume flax seeds than flaxseed oil.
Flaxseed has a nutty taste, which allows it to be added to any kind of porridge, pudding, cake or bread. It can be bought as whole or ground and can be stored for months, without any decay, provided it is stored in a proper manner. Air tight containers will successfully keep the moisture out that is the main cause of the seeds going bad or rotting. Additionally, the seeds can also be refrigerated to ensure longevity over months.
The debate over whether ground flaxseed is better than whole flaxseed is one that has long been resolved. It is now recommended by all food and nutritional experts that consuming ground flaxseed is better than whole flaxseed. This is because whole flaxseed is often passed through the small intestine, without any of the nutrients being absorbed. While the fiber part of the seed is utilized, the rich nutritional value is all but lost. Ground flaxseed, however, can be partially digested and the nutrients well absorbed by the small intestine. The fiber content does not get digested, but also does not get wasted. It forms the bulk required for a good bowel movement.
It is an ideal food for individuals who seek food that is filling, but low on carbohydrates or sugars. It is thus a very good source of good fats for diabetics and dieters. Having no carbohydrate content, but a high omega 3 fatty acid and fiber content make it a filing component to a meal. Many dieters find munching ground or whole flaxseed successfully keeps them full till the next meal. Omega 3 fatty acid is also known to be the agent that fights any kind of inflammation in the body. This includes ailments of the heart, where arteries get inflamed and cause clots, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and even some kinds of cancers. These ailments and their effects on the human body gets increased manifold by an imbalance in the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. The latter is found in corn oil, soy oil and other vegetable oils. Flaxseed is a small but adequate answer to the important balance between the two fatty acids.
Flaxseed is also rich in Vitamin B, magnesium and manganese content needed for the well being of the body. It also contains phytochemicals which are absorbed in our intestines to produce substances which balance the female hormones. This is why flaxseed is highly recommended to alleviate premenstrual symptoms, promote fertility and even believed to prevent cancer. Intake of flaxseed is thus vitally important to women in general.
The many nutrients of flaxseed are best preserved and retained in the body if flaxseed is had in the ground form - in comparison to the whole flaxseed, as well as flaxseed oil. While whole flaxseed may fail to provide adequate nutrient absorption to the body, flaxseed oil also lacks the fiber content. Flaxseed oil is also known to be extremely unsaturated and can degrade if not stored properly. Food made from this oil, also needs to be consumed as soon as possible to prevent rancidity of the medium.
It is nature's way of preserving the oil in the best way possible - i.e. In the seed. It is also best consumed in that form.
Though the goodness of this seed is much talked about, a little needs to be said about the correct manner and amount of consuming flaxseed. It has high fiber content and should be gradually introduced to the diet. A lot of it may be too much for the body to handle in the beginning and may lead to an upset stomach. It will then act as a laxative, which may not be desired. Individuals with an irritable bowel syndrome should be more careful about introducing flaxseed in their diet. Also, it needs to be consumed with a lot of water. Water binds with the fiber in the body to build bulk in the bowels, but without water, flaxseed intake can cause a bowel obstruction.
Finally like many nuts, it contains marginal amounts of cyanide, which can be processed by our body. A recommended two teaspoon of flaxseed should be nutritionally perfect for a healthy body.
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