Frequently Asked Questions
I have heard that I need to grind my flaxseeds for it to be effective. Is this true? If so, what is the best method?
Yes, this is true. Whole flaxseed has a hard hull that is difficult for the digestive system to break down. The grinding process helps release all the nutrients more effectively than is possible by simply chewing the seeds. The best method I have found is using a coffee grinder. A small chopper/grinder may also crack the seeds open, just not grind it finely.
What is the difference between the reddish-brown flax seed and golden or yellow flax seed?
The seeds that are most common are reddish-brown in color, but a second variety is yellow or golden. The color makes little difference when it comes to taste or nutritional value: both offer similar levels of the nutrients that make flax such a great addition to your daily diet.
Some companies selling golden flaxseed claim that it is superior nutritionally by containing more omega-3 fats or lignans. To verify these claims, a copy of the lab analysis would need to be obtained.
Sometimes I see flax meal at the health food store. Is this the same as ground flax?
Not necessarily. According to the flax industry, flax meal is the seed that has been processed so that most of the oil has been removed, leaving it with about 12-15% oil content. Most flax meal is used in animal feed, and it is not common to be able to purchase flax meal for humans to consume. Check the packaging label and compare it the nutrient composition of flaxseed to make sure you are purchasing a product that still contains all the fat.
I have read that flax is the high in lignans. What are lignans and how do they help me?
ignans are plant-derived antioxidants that, when ingested, act like weak versions of the human hormone known as estrogen. These compounds, called phytoestrogens, are extremely beneficial in off-setting the unpleasant physical manifestations of menopause, particularly night sweats and hot flashes. They have also been shown to help in the fight against cancer! Flax is the richest known source of lignans in the entire plant kingdom!
I have noticed that there are two different kinds of flax oil, regular and high-lignan. What is the difference between the two? Which one would you recommend to purchase?
Flax oil, regardless if it is regular or high-lignan, contains only the oil portion from the seed. It does not contain protein, lignans, fiber, and any other substances from the seed. With that being said, consider these points:
1. In the entire flax industry, not one standardized methodology of plant
lignan extraction and measurement testing has been settled upon. Therefore, you
will never know if it is high-lignan or not. It is like comparing apples to
2. Compare a regular bottle of flax oil with a high-lignan version and it will surprise you to note that there are less omega-3 fats in the high-lignan version. For example, 1 tablespoon of regular Barleans flax oil contains 7700 mg omega-3 fats, as the high-lignan Barleans contains 6200 mg omega-3 fats.
3. High-lignan flax oil is usually more expensive than regular flax oil.So, are you better off purchasing high-lignan flax oil? Since the lignan amounts cannot be verified, it has less omega-3 fats, and is more expensive, you would be better off consuming regular flax oil and adding ground flaxseed to your diet.
How stable is flaxseed once it is milled? During the cooking/baking process?
This must be one of the most common questions I receive from both consumers and health care practitioners. Whole flaxseed is stable for at least one year at room temperature. Once the seeds have been ground and stored in an air-tight container, studies have shown that it is stable for at least four months, if not longer. My motto is that fresh is best. So, if you can grind your flaxseed when you need it, that is preferred. Otherwise, a great rule of thumb is to grind a week or two in advance, store it properly, and it will be convenient for you to use. Flaxseed is also very stable when used in cooking and baking. For a list of studies on this topic, click here.
Does flax contain any gluten?
No, flax does not contain gluten.
I'm already taking prescription medications. Can I still consume flaxseed?
It is recommended that you consult with your physician or health care provider before starting to consume flaxseed.
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