Flax is a bluish-purple flowering plant that is abundantly grown in cooler, northern climates. As flax matures, it produces flaxseed, a high-fiber oilseed that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There are two distinct types of flaxseed-- golden and brown. Golden flaxseed is further subdivided into two varieties; Omega and Carter, whereas there are as many as 60 varieties of brown flaxseed, which can cause variations in its consistency.
All flaxseed can be processed in a variety of ways, including milling, roasting, and crushing for oil.
Flax was once used mainly as a fiber for clothing and flax oil as an oil base for paint. It is still used on a limited basis for these products. Flaxseed is also used as a feed source for livestock, chickens, and pets. It helps provide animals with a shiny, lush coat and the eggs from chickens that are fed flaxseed are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is the health benefits of flaxseed that are generating the most interest today.
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed has a high lignin content and also contains mucilage gums. This unique combination of nutrients-- omega-3 fatty acids, high-lignin content and mucilage gums-- have many health benefits, including relieving skin conditions, lowering cholesterol, eliminating constipation, and reducing inflammation and heart disease. No other commonly eaten nuts or seeds contain such a combination of healthy nutrients.
Borage, also known as starflower, is an ancient oilseed which has been used in the far-east for thousands of years. The oil is produced from borage seeds, and is one of the richest sources of essential fatty acids known to man. In recent years, borage oil has caused a revolution in nutritional therapeutics. It typically contains up to 20 percent gamma-linolenic-acid (GLA), which has significant health benefits. Borage oil can be used both internally and externally. It can help regulate the hormonal systems, lower blood pressure, and relieve pre-menstrual tension. When used externally, borage oil can relieve unwanted skin conditions.
Hemp seed is one of the most nutritious and balanced oil seeds in the world. This seed has a concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins, and enzymes, combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches, and saturated fats. Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods available. They provide a broad spectrum of health benefits, including: weight loss, increased and sustained energy, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation and blood sugar control.
Historically, hemp fibers have been used for many industrial purposes including the manufacture of paper, textiles, clothing, and biodegradable plastics. Today, hemp seed and hemp seed products are also being used to enrich the health benefits of baked products, salads, and other food products.