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Flax

Today flax is considered a super food. Both the flax seed and oils provide multiple health benefits. Anyone can easily incorporate flax seed in their diet.

The healing power of flax
by Herb Joiner-Bey.
Topanga, CA : Freedom Press, c2004.
Includes 101 Flaxseed Oil Recipes for a Healthier Life. Flax and flaxseed oil are nature's richest source of omega-3s and contain twice as much omega-3 fatty acids as fish oil products - without the aftertaste and at a more affordable price. The Healing Power of Flax reveals how this important missing nutrient in your diet can help prevent heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain and inflammation. Flax is also an incredibly rich source of a group of compounds, called lignans, that may prevent certain types of cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer. High quality, cold-pressed flaxseed oil has a delicious, nutty flavor, making it easy to incorporate into your diet as a salad dressing, stirred into oatmeal, mixed into yogurt or combined with a blender drink.
     
The flax cookbook : recipes and strategies to get the most from the most powerful plant on the planet
Elaine Magee.
New York : Marlowe & Co., c2002.
Nutritionist Magee, author of "The Recipe Doctor" column, makes cooking with healthy flax simple and delicious for the whole family, with no change in eating habits required. Includes 80 easy-to-prepare recipes.
     
Flax : the super food
Barbara Bloomfield, Judy Brown, Siegfried Gursche
Summertown, Tenn. : Book Pub. Co., c2000.

Flax contains important essential fats -- omega-3s and omega-6s -- which are necessary for the proper functioning of many organs and are not produced by the body.

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Estrogen : the natural way : over 250 easy and delicious recipes for Menopause
Nina Shandler.
New York : Villard Books, 1997.
Women need estrogen, but it's a fact that the hormone diminishes with age. Most women from their forties on won't produce enough to prevent or minimize the short-term symptoms of menopause--hot flashes, night sweats, fuzzy thinking--or help to safeguard their hearts and bones for the rest of their lives. There are 40 million menopausal women in America today who face the frightening reality that traditional hormone replacement therapy, which restores estrogen through pills, often causes distressing symptoms and appears to require long-term use in order to secure long-term benefits. Moreover, long-term use seems to increase the risk of breast cancer. Nina Shandler discovered the exciting news that estrogen occurs naturally in certain foods, primarily soy and flaxseed, which can be used as ingredients in every kind of recipe imaginable, from breakfast bars to soups, main courses and desserts. In Estrogen: The Natural Way she shows how you can do a gentle yet effective version of estrogen replacement therapy using the kitchen instead of the drugstore.
     

There are about 230 species in the flax family, Linaceae, that are found all over the world. Currently, there are two flax varieties available, brown and golden.  Golden seeds tend to have a milder flavor. However, scientists have not found major nutritional differences between the two.

Flax is available in several forms:  Whole seeds, flaxseed oil, flaxseed oil capsules, and ground flax meal.  When buying flaxseed oil, never buy it where it is not refrigerated, nor stored in a dark bottle. It should be kept refrigerated and consumed within six months after opening. If it smells, or tastes bitter, discard it.The best way to use flax seeds is to grind them in a coffee bean grinder, or blender, as  you use them. 

Flax seeds contain:

Lignans, special fiber compounds that protect against cancer.

Fiber also aids digestive disorders such as constipation and irritable bowel.

Phytoestrogens to balance hormone levels and benefit PMS, menopause and other hormonal disorders such as acne.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids to aid in lowering elevated choloesteral and triglcerides and reducing blood pressure,

The best flax food is organic milled flax seed. High quality milled flax seed has 22% protein It is complete with all the essential amino acids. Flax seed is 14% highly beneficial soluble fiber and 12% high quality insoluble fiber. This gentle fiber is both soothing and cleansing to the digestive tract, especially as the intestinal walls.

Linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat, has been the focus of much flax research. The flax seed itself, rather than the oil, is an excellent source for the Omega 3 fatty acids because the oil in the in the seed remains fresh. 

The wild flax, Linum angustifolium, is the plant whose seeds are used to produce linseed oil and medicinal uses. Linens are made from flax as well.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff