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    Archive for the ‘flaxseed oil’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Cooking with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    HempSeedNutShelledHempSeed_MH10101.jpegAre the omega 3 oils in flax, hemp, and chia seeds destroyed when cooking?

    If so, at what temperatures can the omega 3 withstand?

    If we eat chips and crackers with these seeds are we not gaining the value of the omega 3?

    — Julie Stone
    (Location Unknown)

    Great question!  I have seen so much misinformation on this topic that I am chomping at the bit to set it all straight.

    As far as flaxseeds go, feel free to use either whole or ground flaxseeds (AKA flax meal) any which way you want.

    Multiple studies — in reputable publications like the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the British Journal of Nutrition, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — have concluded that the Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed are resistant to oxidation even when cooked for sixty minutes at 660 degrees Fahrenheit!

    In fact, the consensus is that there is no difference in Omega-3 fatty acid content between raw and cooked flaxseeds or flax meal.

    The most likely explanation is that the lignans (a particular variety of plant compounds) in flaxseed have a protective effect on the oil.

    Keep in mind, this does NOT apply to flax seed oil, which does not contain lignans, and is therefore is extremely susceptible to oxidation (even at temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit).  Flaxseed oil is best suited to salad dressings or raw dips.

    Hemp and chia seeds are slightly more delicate than flaxseeds.  It is recommended they be exposed to temperatures no higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    FYI — don’t be scared to use hemp or chia seeds in muffin recipes.

    Although heating instructions may specify the oven temperature to be set at 350 or 400 degree Fahrenheit, the internal temperature of a muffin right out of the oven is usually no higher than 250 ot 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

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    Sneak Peek

    The folks at Smart Balance sent me samples of their new shelf-stable peanut butter product due on supermarket shelves this April.

    The selling points are:

    * The inclusion of flax oil, bringing the ALA Omega-3 fatty acid total of a single two-tablespoon serving to 1,000 milligrams (63% of the Daily Value)

    * The absence of partially hydrogenated oils (hence no trans fats)

    * The use of agave nectar as a sweetener, rather than table sugar (sucrose)

    Mind you, the first two selling points can already be found in the company’s Omega Peanut Butter (pictured at left).

    Both the smooth and crunchy varieties of this new variety passed my taste test (as well as that of fellow tasters I asked to sample the product), but let’s talk nutrition.

    Although the inclusion of agave nectar is touted as a healthier choice since its sweeter-than- sugar status means you need to use less of it to sweeten, it isn’t a big enough difference in this case.

    Smart Balance is being truthful when they advertise this peanut butter as containing “33% less sugar than leading brands,” but you are talking about 2 grams per serving as opposed to 3 grams per serving (which translates to just four fewer calories.)

    What absolutely confuses me, though, is the fact that the company’s Omega Peanut Butter — already in stores — only contains one gram of sugar (in the form of molasses) per serving.

    They could technically advertise this product as having “100% more sugar” than the one they have already launched!

    I am also disappointed by the use of the term “naturally sweetened” in the packaging.

    Remember, there is no concrete legal definition of the term “natural” for food advertising.

    It is a word that means absolutely nothing; it is simply used to conjure up ideas of healthy, “back to basics” eating.

    After all, poisonous mushrooms are natural, but that doesn’t mean they are good for us.

    I don’t think this is “unhealthy” peanut butter by any means, but its sole unique selling point — the use of agave nectar — just isn’t that big of a deal.

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