I have been reading all the recent hype about flaxseed, and so I decided to try it for myself - and here's why:
Omega-3 - This plant source is a great way to get essential fatty acids in your diet. They are essential because our body does not make them, therefore we must consume them. However, the chain of omega-3 is different than the chain found in fish oil. So, flax should not be consumed instead of fish oil, but in addition to fish oil. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains approximately 1.8 grams of omega-3s.
Lignans - The lignans alter the way your body metabolizes estrogens in safer forms. They are reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostrate cancer in men. Flaxseed contains 700-800 more lignans than other plant foods.
Fiber - Each tablespoon of flax consists of 8 grams of fiber. Meeting the recommended consumption helps to keep bowels regular.
If you use flaxseed oil, it will eliminate most of the benefits, including fiber and lignans.
Side note: Flax has been proven to reduce hot flashes in menopausal women - and it can normalize the menstrual cycle. To reap the benefits, it requires a daily dose of 2 tablespoons per day.
If you are not used to consuming enough fiber, you may experience a bit of bloating at first, but other than that, no side effects!
Flaxseed can be found in foods, such as crackers, oatmeal, and waffles. I did not grind my own flaxseed, but I did buy the pre-ground flaxseed. So far, I have used a tablespoon or so in my smoothies (I can't even taste it!), but I plan to include it in a muffin recipe soon. You can also add it to oatmeal or yogurt - or anything you like!