Are 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
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.