Flax seeds: Go on, hug your colon!

November 21st, 2010 10:45 am by Kelly Garbato

tablespoon of flax seeds - _MG_8879

tablespoon of flax seeds” – CC-licensed image via Flickr user sean dreilinger.
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I’ve been using flax seed oil in dog food recipes – peanut butter balls, mostly – for several years now. The stink of the stuff has never appealed to; it’s always made me gag, in fact.

Which is why, when I read that flax seeds are helpful for those who suffer from IBS, I cringed a little. As some of you may know, I’ve been struggling with (what I suspect is) IBS for about five years. Mostly it’s under control, but when I eat the wrong foods or stray from my routine, I’m basically thumbing my nose at the digestive gods.

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I decided to add a few tablespoons of flax seeds to my nightly routine. Or try, anyhow; based on my aversion to the oil, I remained doubtful that I’d be able to choke the actual seeds down. I started with the ground stuff, purchased relatively inexpensively at a certain evil box store, and…they were okay. No, not just okay; good. Kind of yummy, actually! Cue: pleasant surprise.

They made a noticeable difference with my IBS symptoms, too: no more bloating! (Well, assuming I stay away from problem foods; I’m not brave/foolhardy enough to test flax seeds’ efficacy under such risky conditions.) And girl, does that shit keep you regular! Way more effective in that arena than anything I’ve tried, fiber supplements included.

When visiting my parents, I switched to whole, roasted flax seeds because – luck of luck – they just happened to have a bag on hand. (Two, actually; I brought the other home with me in my second suitcase – i.e., the one I use to collect and carry “my haul.”) Super, super yummy.

And great in recipes, too!:

  • Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins @ (Vegan) What’s for Dinner?
  • Blueberry, carrot, and flaxseed muffins @ veggieburgh
  • High Fiber, Lower Carb Maple Morning Muffins @ Goodbaker.com
  • Hermit Cookies with Flax Seed @ Fatfree Vegan Recipes
  • Vegan Oatmeal-Flax-Spelt Cookies and Vegan Blueberry-Flax Granola @ No Meat Athelete
  • Ruth’s Flax Seed Balls @ Food.com
  • Raw Flax Seed Crackers @ About.com
  • Olive Oil Flax Seed Vegan Challah Bread @ Cookies and Candids

    Of course, either kind is helpful to have on hand, as ground flax seeds mixed with soy milk is commonly used as an egg substitute in baking!

    According to the all-knowing Wiki (my research, it’s flawless!), flax seeds have a number of nutritional benefits:

    Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber including lignans, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids (table). Flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, especially in women. Initial studies suggest that flax seeds taken in the diet may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers. A study done at Duke suggests that flaxseed may stunt the growth of prostate tumors, although a meta-analysis found the evidence on this point to be inconclusive. Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels. There is some support for the use of flax seed as a laxative due to its dietary fiber content though excessive consumption without liquid can result in intestinal blockage. Consuming large amounts of flax seed may impair the effectiveness of certain oral medications, due to its fiber content, and may have adverse effects due to its content of neurotoxic cyanogen glycosides and immunosuppressive cyclic nonapeptides.

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    A table depicting flax seed’s nutritional content. You can view a plain-text version here.
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    The only downside? Ground or whole, the seeds stick in your teeth like a mofo. Make sure you have plenty of floss on hand, yo!

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  • 3 Responses to “Flax seeds: Go on, hug your colon!”

    1. Tracy Says:

      I have about a tablespoon and a half of ground flax seeds every morning in my cereal. I use a coffee grinder (I don’t drink coffee) to grind them each morning. It’s great! In August I went on an out-of-state job interview and didn’t have the flax seeds for three days, and it wasn’t pleasant (to put it mildly). When I went back later for two weeks of training, I brought my flax seeds and grinder with me. (I wondered what the TSA people thought as they X-rayed my bag.) You’re right; flax seeds really help one stay regular. As for whole flax seeds, they really don’t work because our bodies don’t absorb them.

    2. Kelly Garbato Says:

      Yes, of course – thanks for the reminder, Tracy!

      (btw, props on getting a grinder through the airport without any trouble. I imagine that they’ve patted down passengers for less.)

    3. The Perfect Pizza Press » Blog Archive » Recipe: Veggie Lover’s Pizza With a Whole Wheat Flaxseed Crust Says:

      […] and grape tomatoes to the mix! Fresh mushrooms, too.) All on a whole wheat crust sprinkled with super-healthy ground flax seeds and sweetened with agave […]

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