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Heart-Healthy Flax


You probably think of flax as the source of the fibers that linen is made from. But did you know that the seeds and oil of the flax plant have heart-healthy properties? Flaxseed oil is a highly unsaturated oil. Both the oil and the seeds are the best food sources of an essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. Our body needs this substance for blood pressure regulation, among other functions. It's one of the omega-3 fatty acids, like those in fish oil, which have been linked to reduced blood clotting and lower risk for heart attacks.

Flaxseeds have a pleasant, nutty flavor and taste good sprinkled on salads, cooked vegetables, or cereals. Grind the seeds or chew them very well; whole seeds just pass through the body. Grinding the seeds just before using them preserves flavor and nutrition. Keep them refrigerated. There is no nutritional difference between brown and yellow flaxseeds. Here are some ways to add flax to your diet:

Combine flaxseed flour with wheat flour for breads, quickbreads and pancakes.
You can find ready-made flaxseed breads, muffins, cereals and breakfast bars in many stores.
Flaxseed oil cannot be used for frying or sautéing.
Keep flaxseed oil refrigerated, and pay attention to the expiration date. It spoils quickly.
Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not eat a lot of flax, and a few people may have allergic reactions to flaxseeds.

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