A wealth of seeds is available that foster an abundance of nutrients for optimising overall health and well-being. Tiny little seeds are valued as a healthy food owing to the ample amounts of dietary fibre, healthy omega fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are versatile and can be added to the regular diet in many ways. Several pieces of evidence have also disclosed that adding seeds as a part of the meal plan are known to manage weight, lipid profile, control blood pressure and blood sugar spikes and uplift physical and mental health. One such seed that has gained huge popularity as a superfood is flaxseed or alsi.
Flaxseed has been used since times immemorial as both food and medicine in the Middle East, where it grows abundantly and is bestowed with a treasure trove of nutrients and bioactive compounds. It offers impressive health benefits such as augmenting cardiac functions, reducing inflammation, promoting digestion, and lowering the risk of diabetes and cancer. These small nutty seeds are glossy with an earthy aroma and crunchy outer layer offering you a ton of health benefits. It is primarily used as a key element in a spectrum of culinary delights and as a health supplement.
Alsi /Flaxseed Plant
Flaxseed, scientifically termed Lindum usitatissimum and belonging to the family Linaceae is a flowering plant that is also known as common flax or linseed. It is largely grown as a food and fibre crop in temperate climatic regions across the world. Flaxseed is a winter crop with a thin stem bearing pale blue blossoms and fruits are round shaped with numerous brown shiny seeds embedded that looks like an apple pie. It is widely cultivated as a commercial crop in the European and American regions. In India it is mainly grown in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Alsi is available in two varieties depending on their colour brown and yellow. Both types have similar nutritional value, but the yellow flaxseed oil comprises a lesser amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Brown flaxseeds are chiefly used to extract vegetable oil-linseed oil, while yellow ones are used in paints, fibre and cattle feed.
Flaxseeds are known by several vernacular names such as Alsi in Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tishi in Bengali, Agasi in Kannada, Aviselu in Telugu, Ali vidai in Tamil and Cheruchana vithu in Malayalam.
Alsi Ayurvedic Uses
Alsi or flaxseed is used both externally in the form of oil and internally as formulations or in combination with other seeds to optimise overall health status. Alsi pacifies the Vata disorders and improves kapha and pitta doshas in the system. Packed with the goodness of fibre it helps in losing weight and reduce Ama and improve the digestive fire. It is also valuable in relieving bloating and inflammation, regulating the body's pH and maintaining normal homeostasis in the body. Potent anti-inflammatory action ease Vata imbalances in the system and supports in treating neuralgia and paralysis. External application of alsi oil may help to cure skin allergies, reduce skin inflammation, and speed up wound healing process.
Flaxseed is one of the healthiest seeds that boasts an impressive profile of nutrients. A serving of flaxseed delivers an ample amount of protein, fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, along with vital vitamins and minerals. It is mainly high in thiamine, Vitamin B1 that holds a major role in energy metabolism as well as cell integrity. Besides these loaded with copper, flaxseed promotes brain development, boost immunity and iron metabolism.
The nutrition value of 1 tablespoon ground flax seed:
Carbs: 2 grams
Fat: 3 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Protein: 1.3 grams
Thiamine: 10% of the Daily Value (DV)
Copper: 9% of the DV
Manganese: 8% of the DV
Magnesium: 7% of the DV
Phosphorus: 4% of the DV
Selenium: 3% of the DV
Zinc: 3% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 2% of the DV
Iron: 2% of the DV
Folate: 2% of the DV
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Data Base)
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
Power-Packed With omega-3 fatty acids
Flaxseed is a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, improve blood circulation, enhance heart functions and lower the risk of stroke. While potent anti-inflammatory effects of these tiny seeds help to reduce inflammation, combat osteoporosis by lowering the risk of bone fractures and treats other inflammatory disorders.
Flaxseed is packed with lignans, plant compounds that are attributed to have potent cancer-fighting actions. Surprisingly these tiny seeds boast almost 800 times more lignans than any other plant food. Studies have revealed that regular addition of flaxseed lowers the risk of breast cancer, specifically in postmenopausal women. Moreover, the richness of antioxidants may be beneficial in averting the risk of certain types of cancer.
Being intrinsically rich in dietary fibre, a serving about 1 tablespoon of powdered flaxseed offers 2 grams of fibre, which meets about 5 % and 8 % of the daily advised intake for men and women, respectively. Imbued with both soluble and insoluble fibre, flaxseed support to enhance gut health, prevent constipation, regularise bowel movements and improve the digestion process.
Augments Cardiac Health
The goodness of dietary fibre, bioactive compound, and omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed can largely help to enhance heart functions and regulate blood pressure. Flaxseed loaded with lignans reduce triglycerides level, lower inflammation, and prevent heart disease. Additionally, choosing flaxseed one can get an ample amount of heart-friendly nutrients that improve blood circulation, prevent artery hardening and lower the risk of stroke.
Vast reserves of dietary fibre and lignans in flaxseed prevent insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar surge and HbA1 C levels. Insulin resistance is the inability of the system to effectively use the hormone insulin, which is the root cause of blood sugar spikes. Thus, adding this nutrient-dense seed may enhance insulin sensitivity, control blood pressure and lower the risk of prediabetes.
Boosts Brain Function
Flaxseed is a storehouse of health-shielding antioxidants polyphenols, that avert free radicals from damaging healthy cells and combat oxidative stress. While goodness of copper and thiamine in flaxseed combat premature ageing and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's.
Alsi For Weight Loss
Alsi is a good source of plant-based proteins and omega 3 fatty acids that work as a healthy addition to the weight watcher’s diet. A teaspoon of flaxseed offers needed protein and fibre to curb the appetite, control hunger pangs, reduce calories intake and keep you satiated, thus supporting in losing surplus kilos. It is advisable to have about 2- 4 tablespoons of ground alsi daily for best results.
Alsi /Flax seed For Skin and Hair Beauty
The benefits of alsi are tremendous not just for health but also for uplifting skin beauty. Laden with essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, these tiny seeds help to nourish and sustain skin health from the inside out. They work wonder for the skin and can assure to make your skin look glowing and blemish-free skin in a short period.
Blessed with proteins, healthy fat and polyphenols flaxseed ensures healthy skin, glow from deep within, maintain skin integrity and delay signs of ageing. The wealth of nutrients in alsi restores the skin elasticity making it firm and well-toned.
Flaxseed rich in antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, and other key nutrients help in maintaining hair health. Yes, these shiny little seeds can help you in getting smooth, lustrous, and beautiful hair.
Alsi hair mask is simple and easy to make and gives you amazing results. Rich in vitamin E promotes scalp health, improve blood circulation, and prevent premature greying of hair. Bestowed with omega 3 fatty acids flaxseeds lock hair moisture, prevent the scalp from drying and treat dandruff. Furthermore, hair nourishing nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, iron, and copper boost hair growth and help your mane grow stronger and longer.
How to Eat Flaxseed /Alsi?
It’s best to have this healthy food as crushed or ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, as the outer layer of the seed is hard to digest. Also, whole flaxseed is more likely to travel via the intestines undigested and nutrients would not be absorbed. Remember that the oil version of flaxseed is devoid of fibre, though it is an impressive source of omega 3 fatty acid.
To get the goodness of fibre, protein, and healthy fat, it's recommended that you eat about 1 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily.
Easy Ways to Increase Your Flaxseed Intake:
Add them into your baking tweaking egg to make eggless magic and delicious cakes, pastries, muffins, and cookies. Just replace each egg with one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and three tablespoons of water and allow it to set and thicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle into your oatmeal or cereal porridge
- Use Flaxseed oil as a salad dressing
- Whip into homemade mayo
- Drizzle into your yogurt or smoothie
- Add ground flaxseed to smoothies and pancakes
- Add flaxseed into meat or veggie patties to fire up the grill
Alsi or flax seed renders an earthy, nutty flavour and tastes great when added to a spectrum of dishes. Here are two delectable and nutritious recipes to try that may help you to boost the nutritional gap.
Flaxseed Chutney Powder
Flaxseed chutney podi blended with lentils and spices gets flavourful and healthier that offers your taste buds an enthralling taste.
1 cup flax seeds
2 tbsp urad dal
1 tsp sesame seeds
5 dry red chillies
2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
A pinch of hing
Dry roast flax seed and urad dal in a pan on a medium flame separately, while stirring occasionally. Keep the roasted ingredients aside.
In the same pan, dry roast chillies for 2-3 minutes, while tossing occasionally. Keep the roasted chillies aside.
Now dry roast cumin and sesame seeds for a minute.
Mix all the ingredients along with salt and hing in a mixer and grind till coarse.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Have this flavourful flaxseed podi with hot rice or with idlis or dosas.
Flax seeds are blessed with the goodness of antioxidants and lignans, which effectively helps in losing weight, regulating blood sugar spikes, hormone imbalance and enhancing skin health. Urad dal offer ample protein for muscle strength. Sesame seeds contain calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients that fortify bone and cumin seeds improves digestive functions.
Flax Seed Raita
1 cup fresh curd
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
2 tbsp roasted and coarsely ground flax seeds
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds'1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
In a bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Refrigerate the flax seed raita for an hour.
Serve the raita chilled.
Flax seeds are the highest source of plant omega 3 fatty acids, which supports to trigger immunity, lower cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease. Cucumber promotes hydration, regulates blood sugar spikes and supports weight loss. While mint leaves add flavour and enhance gut health.
Flaxseed is valued as a health food that delivers several wellness incentives, however, there are a few downsides to consider. As flaxseed is packed with fibre, having it more than recommended amounts may lead to digestive problems including bloating, flatulence, and indigestion. Drink enough water after consuming flaxseed to support digestion. Furthermore, it may also interact with several drugs including blood thinners and antiplatelet medications.
Flaxseed is bestowed with vast reserves of nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, and beneficial plant compound lignans, all of which boast a ton of healing health benefits. These tiny seeds are best known to enhance gut health, avert the risk of certain types of cancer, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels, augment heart health, aid weight loss and manage hormone balance. Boost your overall health and well-being by adding this tiny superfood in your regular meal plan.