There are several different names for this plant. It is most commonly known as Flaxseed or linseed but many people simplify it to flax.
Its official name is Linum. The commonly cultivated flax is called Linum usitatissimum.
In addition to referring to the plant, “flax” a term may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant.
It belongs to the Linaceae family of the genus family. This is a family of flowering plants of about 2050 different species. There are two subfamilies – Linoideae and Hugonioideae.
The two can be identified by the differences in their leaves and flowers. Linaceae has simple leaves, with a variety of arrangements – alternate, opposite or whorled.
The largest genus of the Linoideaeis is the Linum, also known as the flaxes. There are between 180-200 different species.
The commonly cultivated flax, Linum usitatissimum has be
en domesticated only once from the wild species called Linum bienne.
The cultivated flax plant grows up to 1.2 m or 3 ft 11 inches tall. It has long slender stems.
The flowers are a pale blue all over, measuring 15–25 mm in diameter, with a total of five petals.
Where does it grow?
It is a fiber crop or food cultivated in regions around the world that have cooler climates.
Flax is a blue flowering plant. As mentioned above, it grows in cooler environments with longer daylight periods. In general, there are two reasons to grow flax – i.e. for fiber and seeds.
In the North American region, it is specially grown for commercial purposes. The production of flax in the U.S occurs mainly in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. For the last two years, the total production of flax in the U.S was 3.84 million bushels.
In the U.S, farmers planted 229,000 acres of flax in North Dakota state. This is 14.1 bushels an acre on average. According to NASS, 2018, flex production in North Dakota is over three million bushels.
Similarly, Canada is also one of the largest producers of flaxseed in the world. The country represents about 45% of flaxseed production in the world.
Companies in Canada grow flaxseeds on prairies to produce linseed oil, which is used in varnishes and paints as a drying component.
It is also used in different products like printing and linoleum inks. When combined, the U.S, China, and India produce 50% of the total flax production in the world.
Health benefits of Flaxseed
There is a wide range of benefits provided by flaxseed. The seeds are highly rich in fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats. The seeds also contain protein, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acid, as well as lignans.
All these nutrients have been proven clinically to help reduce the risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disorders, and other chronic ailments.
Flaxseeds are also a rich source of protein. When you consume a small number of flaxseeds (1 teaspoon) daily, it will provide your body with protein and fiber content that suppresses your appetite significantly.
In this way, you will feel full and thus won’t eat more food. The basic purpose is to prevent people from overeating. So, it is a great natural supplement to lose weight since it contains low-calories starch and sugar.
Different uses of Flaxseeds
Flaxseed has a wide range of both domestic and industrial applications. These seeds are used as and in:
- Flax as a Food product such as Omega-3 Eggs, Snacks, Pasta, Waffles, Pet Food, Oil Mixes, Meal, Energy bars, Crackers, Cereals, and Bread.
- Commercial recipes like cookbooks, orzo, flax soup, lentil, meatloaf, orange bran flax muffins, farmland flax cookies, two-hour bund, and flax rice.
- Animal and poultry feed such as Cattle Rations, Equine Feeds, Hog Rations, Pet Foods, etc.
- Linseed oil for the protection of wood
- Paint, varnishes, inks, etc.
- Health supplements for healthy heart, diabetes, and fitness.
What was it traditionally used for?
Flax was primarily grown for use in linens. Linen is a popular textile product known in the Western hemisphere – is made from flax, which was traditionally used for underclothes, bed sheets, and table linen.
Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops. People have been growing flaxseed since the beginning of human civilization. This cultivated crop is native to the region – from the eastern Mediterranean region to India.
It was the first cultivated crop or product used in Fertile Crescent.
In a ten-gram serving of flaxseed, there will be one gram of water-soluble fiber and three grams of insoluble fiber. Water-soluble fiber is known for lowering blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber can prevent constipation.
In a one hundred gram serving, flaxseed contains high levels of protein, fiber, different B vitamins and a selection of minerals.
Flaxseed is rich in thiamine, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids (over 50%).
Research suggests that consuming flaxseed may reduce some types of cholesterol in the blood.
When consuming 30 grams daily for more than 12 weeks, some people have reported loss of weight, reduced body mass index (BMI) and reductions in blood pressure.
Flaxseed and its oil is nontoxic and are recognized as safe for human consumption.
Similarly, with many other foods, flax contains small amounts of cyanogenic glycoside, which is nontoxic when consumed in small amounts. However, when consumed in large quantities can become toxic to our bodies.
It is important to note that you would have to be eating an awful lot of flaxseed to experience these effects.
A Few Final Thoughts
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