What is Flaxseed? Its Uses, History, Advantages, Disadvantages

What is Flaxseed?

Flax is a blue flowering annual herb that produces small flat seeds varying from golden yellow to reddish brown color.

Flaxseed is the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acid (α-linolenic acid) and the phytohormone lignans. These seeds are considered as functional food as it is a good source of high quality protein and other phenolic components. Edible flaxseed products include the whole flaxseed, ground meal and extracted oil or mucilage.

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Synonyms: Linseed or flax

Why are Flaxseeds used in food industry?

Flaxseed is considered as functional food owing to the presence of three main bioactive components—alpha-linolenic acid, lignans and dietary fiber.

History of using Flaxseed

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Flaxseed was native of India and was a staple food crop. Flax has been cultivated for thousands of years. Currently Canada is the largest producer of flax, followed by the United States, China, and India.

Uses of Flaxseed

  • Flaxseed contains oil that is used for edible purpose.
  • It is used as an additive in the preparation of a number of dietary items such as baked cereal products, ready to eat cereals.
  • It is used in the manufacturing of salad toppings, meat extenders.
  • It is used as an ingredient in manufacturing of certain bread, muffins and spaghetti.
  • Flax seed is also used as whole or milled in batters, dough and various baked products.

Advantages:

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  • Flaxseeds serve as a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
  • It helps lower cholesterol.
  • It helps is improving digestion problem.
  • It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes.

Disadvantages:

  • Flaxseeds contain anti-nutrients that may have adverse influence on the health and well-being of human population and these are Cyanogenic glycosides.

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