Benefits of Flax Seed

Five-generation farm provides consumer with a healthy way to lower cholesterol.

| January/February 2010

  • Flax in the field.
    Flax in the field. Aga
  • Harvesting flax on the Stobers’ North Dakota farm.
    Harvesting flax on the Stobers’ North Dakota farm.
    courtesy Flax USA,

  • Flax in the field.
  • Harvesting flax on the Stobers’ North Dakota farm.

The property, three miles from the nearest neighbor and six miles from a town of 100, sits in the heart of the U.S. flax-producing region. John Stober’s great-great-grandfather homesteaded the North Dakota parcel in the early 1900s. Paul and Winnie Stober still occupy the home across the pasture from their son, John, and daughter-in-law, Stephanie. The younger couple currently runs the 1,200-acre family farm.

“John and I began as struggling farmers seeking creative new ways to make a living,” Stephanie says. “In 1999, we worked hand-in-hand to launch FLAX USA.

 “Although some of the earth’s finest flax had grown somewhere on our remote acreage for decades, we hadn’t yet discovered its outstanding qualities as a health food.”

That year, the Stobers delved into some serious research, learning of the plant’s uses beyond making linen fabric. Confectionary flax seed has been in existence for thousands of years: Hippocrates touted flax for the relief of intestinal discomfort; King Charlemagne passed laws ordering his subjects to consume flax seed; and Gandhi said: “Whenever flax seed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.”

The Stober family added such terms as omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA ) to their vocabulary. According to the Mayo Clinic, lignans bind to estrogen receptors in the body and may play a role in preventing certain cancers. Flax seeds are a rich source of lignans, which are also believed to benefit digestive and heart health.

Other nutrients present in relatively small servings of the seed include zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silicon, copper, nickel, molybdenum, chromium, cobalt, the B-group vitamins, vitamin E and carotene.

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