Testimony of a Wonderplant
I have seen ages come and go, have seen empires rise and fall. I was born from the land, and have since traveled from the reaches of Southwest Asia into the hands of young and old throughout the world. Although I am small, I have nurtured the lives of many, and have taken on many different forms. I have been a dress, a spot of ink on ancient parchment, and a decoration of the deepest blue for nobility and royalty. I have helped catch the wildest creatures of the sea, and helped mothers nurse their starving young.
I have borne seeds, both brown and golden, small and oval shaped and crunchy to the tooth. I have seen my offspring sprinkled on salads, consumed by the handful, and ground into dust. I have seen the dust of my children baked into breads and combined into muffins and pancakes. I have seen my seeds tapped for their precious oil, seen that oil consumed by the kilolitre. I have watched as the world woke up to me.
I am special, I am told. My seeds carry an important phytoestrogen, a chemical compound known as a lignan, a powerful antioxidant which helps fight diseases, among them that great human scourge called cancer. Recent studies have shown that cancer patients, both men and women, who have consumed one ounce per day of my seeds have slowed the progress of their cancers, delaying an increase in tumor growth and allowing them valuable time to wait for surgery. My seed’s lignans are wonderful for the heart, too, as is the Omega-3 fatty acid Alpha-linolenic acid which they contain. They are essential, I am told, because only from a plant, such as myself, can they be found, and humans know of nothing better for the natural reduction of cholesterol, blood pressure, and artery plaque formation. Humans today are prizing my seeds for their helpful reduction of heart attacks and other negative coronary conditions. Many people today are also adding these lignans and omega-3 acids to my oil, so my seeds are no longer the only source.
The lignans in my seeds are a form of fiber, so my seeds are also very helpful in aiding digestion and bringing balance to people’s digestive systems. They are tasty, too, I am told, and provide a wonderfully crunchy addition to breads and salads, in addition to their snackability for daily consumers. They have a deliciously nutty flavor, and are great in combination with many everyday dishes.
So who am I, who is so old, so helpful, so versatile? Who has been a part of human diets since the eldest of days, and who now, more than ever, is helping to bring balance and time to people’s lives?
I am flax, also known as linseed, wonderplant.