Flaxseeds (also referred to as linseeds), need to be soaked in water in order for the tough outer shell to be softened and thus release their superior nutrients.
If the outer shell is not softened by soaking in water (or alternatively you can grind flaxseeds in a coffee grinder) they pass through the intestines undigested. Or worse, they become lodged in the bowel wall and irritate the lining, particularly if you suffer diverticulitis.
After just 30 minutes of soaking the outer husk starts to soften and the seeds start to swell. (See photos below)
2 tablespoons linseeds added to water
30 minutes later seeds have swelled
Soaking flaxseeds does a fabulous job of “freeing” the nutrients of your flax so that you can absorb them.
Flaxseeds can be soaked for a short time with a little water, which opens up the tough kernels and forms a mucilage from the types of soluble fibres inside called polymucosaccharides. When this liquid is drunk this coats the gastro-intestinal tract and works to keep you regular and even ease constipation if needed. It also helps digestion by healing the gut wall and promoting the mucosal lining, the microfilm of the gut, your first line of immune defence and vital in reducing the incidence of food intolerances that can lead to constipation and cholesterol build-up.
If whole flax seeds are not first soaked, they only provide you with insoluble fibre due to its outer shell being so tough that the soluble fibre in unable to be released. In order for the body to absorb the soluble fibre, this outer shell needs to be softened. It is the role of the insoluble fibre that makes whole flaxseeds simply pace through your digestive system, aiding regular bowel movements.
The seeds can swell to 4 times their original size and rapidly fill a glass. If you wish, you can put the seeds into a large glass and simply drink off the water now infused with oils from the linseeds.
Flaxseed's health benefits come from the fact that they are high in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans. Lignans appear to flush excess oestrogen out of the body, which is great for anyone with oestrogen dominance. Research has shown that 40 grams of flax seeds per day may be similar to hormone therapy for improving menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.
If you would like to know more about flax seeds or any flax seed recipes be sure to email me at [email protected]
RN, ND, BHSc, Author & Speaker