Grind the Tough Exterior of Flax Seeds to Boost Nutrient Absorption
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Photographed by Hannah Sanders
Whole Flax Seed | The Circulation Supporter
The moment a plant's beauty catches your eye, consider it's purpose as you admire it's visual appearance. When used properly, every bit of nature on Earth can assist other living things with growth. With the right plant conditioning, the flax seeds produced from purple flax flowers can provide us with amazing health benefits.
The germination process of a flax seed begins when a plant embryo breaks out of the flax seed's coating. The root hairs form and after about 3 weeks they grow into micro greens. These greens are commonly used in cuisines around the world and healthier than most traditional lettuces.
The plant continues to lengthen and a five petaled purple-blue flower is formed. The flower then creates a pea-sized capsule. The capsule contains about 10 flattened 5 mm golden seeds. When you shake the capsules and hear the seeds rattling inside then it is harvest time. The pod can be gently squeezed to release the now edible flax seeds.
Advantages of Ground Flax
Flax seeds provide many health benefits but their ability to lower blood pressure caught my attention the most. According to studies in the Journal of Hypertension, Dr. Stephanie Caliguiri published an article in which about 20/1000 people had blood pressure results that required urgent attention from health care. Environmental stress and excessive sugars have great potential to cause poor circulation within the human body and it is important to be aware of the potential damage. This lack of efficient blood flow can lead to a build up of plaque in the walls of the arteries. This stop up is the main cause of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
The outer layer of flax seeds are very hard and if swallowed whole, they would pass through the digestive system without being completely absorbed. This is why ground flax seed is recommended. Even if the flax seeds are ground, it takes work from the body through exercise to gain complete nutrition. It is important for as much of the nutrients from the flax seeds as possible to reach the process of systemic circulation. As you continue to read this post keep in mind that every single one of our bodies are different, but flax seed has been proven to be beneficial for the majority.
Plant Family: Linaceae
Species : Linum Usitatissimum (latin for most useful flax)
Photographed by Hannah Sanders
Purchasing Whole Flax Seed
Flax seeds are cheaper than most medications and found in the bulk section of most natural foods stores. Stick to purchasing flax seeds from the most natural sources. Keep in mind that Flax is one of the most often heavily sprayed and genetically modified food crops so the cleaner the source the better the benefit.
Shop for Organic Non GMO brands.
Shop for flax milk. (lactose free)
Shop for unfiltered flax seed oil in order to receive some Omega 3 health benefits.
The Nutrient Bio Availability of Flax Seeds
Graphic Design by Paul | Kuro Arts
Absorption of Nutrients
I noticed that on the Flax Seed nutrition charts the whole flax seed by weight contained higher amounts of nutritional substance than the ground flax seed. Even though the amounts may be higher in the Whole flax this doesn't mean that our bodies will absorb the full amount. The outer coating of a whole flax seed is hard and nearly impossible to completely digest the entire seed without grinding or milling.
The bio availability of flax is the proportion of the nutrient that is absorbed by the body for performance. There are factors that can contribute to a decrease in absorption such as metabolism and some medications. The bio availability of a nutrient is measure on a scale of 0-100 and is needed to obtain muscle growth from diet.
The Circulatory System
An increase in pulse rate can assist the nutrients in ground flax seed with traveling through your body more efficiently. The heart squeezes the blood out to the systemic arteries which carry oxygen and nutrients through the rest of the body. This process is called systematic circulation. The blood is how oxygen travels through the body. When you relax the blood comes back to the heart and the cycle repeats with every pulse.
During Exercise the body pushes more nutrients from the ground flax into the blood stream at a faster rate. So you could only imagine how "ground" flax seed could travel through the body more efficiently.
Oxylipins that restrict the Blood Vessels.
Blood analysis revealed that these negative oxylipins were significantly reduced in both older and younger adults, after one year of consuming ground flax seed in a study conducted by Dr. Stephanie Caliguiri.
Plant Sources that don't contain the 9 essential amino acids will be a little harder to reach your nutrient absorption goals. Macro nutrients are required in large quantities to support our body. Macro nutrients (measured in KCal) are carbs, proteins and fats.
Flax seeds are more nutritious when consumed in their raw, unheated state. Keep this in mind when considering to use ground flax as a part of a homemade frying batter. The nutrients will degrade due to high heat exposure. Pairing flax with your favorite saturated foods may give you a sense of satisfaction but it could be stopping you from obtaining complete nutritional value from the seeds. Instead try baking flax muffins, doing this would allow some nutrition components to stick around in your dish.
Below is a scientific nutrition chart to give you a visual of the components of flax.
Macro Nutrients | Carbs
Flax can be a lot of fiber for individuals who are used to a diet low in fiber , it would take a while for their gut bacteria to adjust. There is about 2 grams of dietary Fiber in one tablespoon of ground Flax seed. Must be consumed with adequate amounts of water or can cause bloating. 1-2 tablespoon daily dose.
The gel like consistency formed in the digestive tract when the fiber is mixed with water can give assist the body with absorbing cholesterol and slowing down sugar absorption.
Serves as a prebiotic in the colon, the thick jelly texture reduces intestinal inflammation.
Adds bulk to stool
Macro Nutrient | Carbs | Net Digestible
Ground Flax Seed contains 2 grams of carbs in one tablespoon
Macro Nutrient | Fats
Omega 3 | Fatty Acid (ALA)
Ground Flax is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids. In a nutrition clinical trial conducted by Dr. Stephanie Caliguiri, half of an 110 participant group consumed flax. After 6 months, a significant decrease was shown in their systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
It is important to not that there was no Omega 3 detected in the blood after consumption of whole flax seed. However the ground flax seed did increase the level of Omega 3 circulating in the blood.
Essential Fatty Acid Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)
EPA and DHA
Although ALA is important to reduce heart disease risk factors, the body does a poor job at converting it to Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Decosahexaenoic acid DHA
EPA is very important for decreasing inflammation in the body and the linoleic component of
It wouldn't hurt to eat a fish containing omega 3 or take some fish oil supplements just to be on the ensure you are getting the your macro nutrients plus some variety in your diet.
DHA is very important for brain development and memory.
Omega 6 | Fatty Acid
Essential Fatty Acid a polyunsaturated fatty acid
The combination of protein, fat (omega) and fiber in flax seeds helps you with feeling satisfied with your appetite by releasing hormones peptide yy and cck
Flax Seed amino acids in the body are broken down into proteins.
Ground Flax must be stored in the fridge immediately, exposure to heat or light could decrease the Omega 3 contents. It doesn't take long for them to lose nutritional value due in the process of oxidation.
Whole flax seed can last up to a year when stored in your fridge.
Ground Flax Seed can also be frozen to extend its shelf life, grinding your flax seed at home can ensure that there are no extra filler ingredients added through the processing of other companies.
Flax Seed Recipes
Flax Eggs | 35 min
1 tbsp of ground flax
3 tbsp of water
Directions: Mix ground flax and water in a small bowl. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and the mixture will form into a gelatin. Cook like an egg.
Ultimate Orange Smoothie | 5 min
2 frozen bananas
2 small whole carrots, peeled and chopped
4 ounces of orange juice
4 ounces of coconut water
1 tbsp of honey
1 1/2 tbsp of ground flax
Directions: Pour orange juice and coconut water in blender and then add all other ingredients. Blend.
Note: If you don't want your smoothie to pour out like a milkshake then sprinkle your ground flax on the top right before drinking. The longer the flax sits in liquid the more the consistency will change.
Cinnamon Swirl Mug Muffin | 3 min
Warm your winter with this Flax Seed Muffin in a Mug Recipe,
Take a Second to Think
What meals can you prepare to go along with flax seed to get complete nutritional value?
How and where can you store you flax seeds to maintain the nutritional contents?
Edel, A., Rodriguez-Leyva, D., Maddaford, T.G., Caligiuri, S.P., Austria, J., Weighell, W., Guzman, R., Aliani, M., & Pierce, G. (2015). Dietary flaxseed independently lowers circulating cholesterol and lowers it beyond the effects of cholesterol-lowering medications alone in patients with peripheral artery disease. The Journal of nutrition, 145 4, 749-57 .
Parikh, M., Maddaford, T. G., Austria, J. A., Aliani, M., Netticadan, T., & Pierce, G. N. (2019). Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health. Nutrients, 11(5), 1171. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051171