Flax seed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flax seed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.
Flax seed is found in all kinds of today's foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flax seed grown, agricultural use has also increased.
Flax seed is what's used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Although flax seed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
• Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flax seed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
• Lignans, which have both, plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flax seed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
• Fiber. Flax seed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.