An article on Yahoo's front page today:
--FromperThe Buzz About Flax
Posted by Cheryl Koch, M.S., R.D.
on Tue, Mar 06, 2007, 6:52 pm PST
Last week, while cruising the aisles of the grocery store, it seemed like everywhere I turned I ran into a new flax-based product.
I was amazed at the wide variety of these products, which were previously found mostly in health food stores or in the specialty area of the local grocery store. I could have selected snack bars, pancakes, cereals, muffins and trail mix, all boasting of their flaxseed content.
So why is flaxseed gaining popularity on the shelves of the local grocery store? Well, maybe people have begun to hear about the reported benefits that flax has on heart health, including lowering cholesterol and triglycerides levels, reducing blood pressure, and decreasing platelet aggregation (clot forming). In addition, flaxseed is an excellent source of fiber.
Researchers have found that flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a polyunsaturated fat. It is this essential fatty acid that confers flaxseed's potential heart-healthy benefits and that is helping this ancient crop make an appearance beyond the local health food store.
Flax is available in different forms. Flaxseed has a nutty flavor and is frequently added whole as a topping to cereals, salads or yogurt. The seed is also ground up and added to baked goods such as muffins and breads. Flaxseed's outer hull is difficult to digest and so to ensure maximum benefit consider grinding the seed in a blender or food processor before using it.
Another beneficial by-product of flaxseed is its oil, which is a good source of ALA (but which does not give you the benefit of increased fiber). Flaxseed oil is less likely to be found on the shelves at the local grocery store, and so you will probably have to buy it either at a health food store or directly from a manufacturer.