The healthy Omega-3 oils found in flax seeds and milled flax are nutrient dense and contain the lignin phytonutrients that are both heat stable and very tasty. It is both safe to leave whole flax seeds at room temperature and to cook and bake with them. The Omega-3 oils in flax seeds are heat resistant due to their particular cellular matrix. Their matrix, or the combination of nutrients in the flax seed, protects the oils as they are not isolated. When an Omega-3 oil is part of a combined matrix, this provides the protection chemical compounds need to withstand heat and baking. Flax seeds can deliver amazing health benefits raw or cooked, baked or blended and taste wonderfully nutty. Adding flax to any baked good, meatloaf, bread, pancake, stuffing or smoothie will add the lignin phytonutrients that supply the body with Omega-3 oils and that bulk up in the intestines and help purify the colon. Replacing ingredients such as margarine, sugar and flours with flax is a healthful way to improve your diet. There are many resources, cook books, conversion charts and substitution tables available in stores and on line that will help you to put this practice into place. Now, if you are using flax seed oil, it is not a good idea to use it in heated dishes or in baked products.
Flax oil is not isolated in a matrix like the Omega-3’s found in whole and milled flax seeds. Because flax oil does not contain the protective nutrients that flax seeds do, heating the flax oil will cause it to become rancid. When an oil is heated and becomes rancid, this process produces carcinogens and is not good for your health. Flax oil is an excellent vegetarian alternative to fish oil for a daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. Flax oil can be drizzled over fruit, blended with yogurt and used over greens. Like the whole flax seed and milled flax, flax oil has a lovely warm nutty aroma and lends to both savory and sweet dishes. To preserve the flavor of both whole flax seeds, milled flax and flax oil, many chose to keep their flax products in the refrigerator. Although whole flax seeds and milled flax are indeed heat stable, keeping them in the freezer has been proven to increase shelf life and to maintain the greatest flavor and desired nutty taste. Humidity, warmth, direct sunlight and other weather related variables can decrease the taste and consistency of milled flax. Roasting flax seeds in a pan over low heat and grinding with a bit of salt and herbs makes for an excellent flax powder that can be added to any meal as a health boosting condiment. Whole flax seeds are not easily absorbed by the body and are best milled or pulsed in a coffee grinder. Using a coffee grinder to process whole flax seeds is an easy way to grind them into a delicate and tasty powder as needed.
For further information on all things flax, please look into the various on-line sites that offer recipes and healthy vegetarian recipes. Look for alternative food cook books and vegetarian baking recipe books in your local bookstore.