Information on Hemp
Grind flax seeds for optimal nutritional benefit.
Fad foods are always going in and out of fashion in the world of nutrition. Seeds such as chia, hemp and flax are one trend that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. All three types of seeds are packed with healthy oils, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and proteins. Additionally, the seeds are easy to incorporate into recipes without changing the taste or texture. Chia, hemp and flax seeds, oils and flours can be purchased in bulk at most whole-foods stores. Consult your health care provider before making any significant changes to your diet.
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is a desert grower. The seeds were considered survival rations for Aztec and Mayan warriors in the pre-Columbian era. An amazing amount of nutrition is packed into the tiny seeds. One ounce of chia has 11 grams of fiber and three to six times more calcium per serving than milk. The seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are also rich in antioxidants and contain a long list of other nutrients including phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, niacin, iron and copper.
Hemp seeds are crushed and sold either as oil or meal. The seeds have a protein content of 20 percent and are 29 to 34 percent oil by weight, according to the USDA. Hemp seed is a rich source of linoleic, linolenic and gamma-linolenic acids, which are omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids balance the immune system; the former reduces inflammation, while the latter promotes inflammation. Hemp oil has the highest concentration of fatty acids, but its use is limited due to a short shelf-life. Hemp oil also cannot be used for frying and has a taste and color many people find off-putting.
Flaxseed - also known as linseed - is an excellent source of fiber, lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil contains only alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, and the whole seeds are beneficial only as roughage. ALA may ameliorate or prevent heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and other conditions according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. To get the full nutritional benefit, use ground flax meal which contains all of flax's best ingredients in a digestible form. Store whole seeds in the refrigerator, and use a coffee grinder to mill seeds into flour as needed.
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