Linseed and flaxseed are different names for the same seed, a product of the flax plant. The name "flaxseed" is a natural derivative of "flax plant," while "linseed" comes from the plant's binomial name, Linum usitatissium. The raw seed offers several health benefits due to the nutritional value of its fatty acids, including the omega-6 fatty acid Linoleic acid which is vital for proper cell functioning. Linseed has up to 800 times the lignans (healthy plant hormones) of other foods.
The health benefits of linseed have been documented since Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman times. The seed became less popular following the fall of Rome, however it was revived by Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor, who passed laws requiring the cultivation and consumption of flaxseed throughout Europe. The flax plant was introduced to North America by early colonists and Canada followed in the 17th century, going on to become one of the biggest producers of flaxseed.
Appearance and taste
Flaxseed is a small seed, a little bigger than a sesame seed, and may be of the golden or brown variety. The smooth shell of the seed can vary in colour, from burnt orange to reddish brown. Linseed has a pleasant, mild, nutty taste with a slight crunch when eaten whole. It can also be consumed ground or in oil form.
Linoleic acid improves the condition of the hair and accelerates the body's healing process. Flaxseed also contains Alpha-Linolenic acid, part of the omega-3 fatty acid group. The body uses Omega-3 fatty acids to create Series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, hormone-like molecules with anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids are believe to help maintain good heart health and prevent inflammatory conditions such as arrhythmia, asthma, osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. This group of fatty acids is also known for relieving menopausal night sweats and hot flashes. Wet linseed is a fantastic source of fibre, which is important for regular bowel movements and relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Taking a spoonful of raw linsed either immediately before or straight after a meal is recommended to improve bowel health. This has the nutritional value of 30 portions of broccoli and the fibre content of 50 slices of wholewheat bread. Linseed can be added to salads, cereals and smoothies. It's important to drink at a glass of water at the same time, to form mucilage and create sufficient moisture to properly digest the seed. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of raw linseed oil to your meals each day will help treat the symptoms of menopause. It's important to keep the oil refrigerated.