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    You Ask, I Answer: Flaxseed Questions


    Am I correct in assuming that chewing flax seeds does not release significant amounts of lignans [like grinding them up]?

    Can I grind a whole bunch of flax seeds in advance in a coffee grinder or do they lose their health benefits over time?

    Also, I usually buy roasted flax seeds – any pros or cons associated with them being roasted?

    — Jake Shields
    (Location Unknown)

    When it comes to flax, lignans — heart-healthy compounds also linked to decreased risks of breast and prostate cancers — are only bioavailable from ground seeds (also known as “flax meal”). It would take significant (and kind of physically impossible) chewing of each seed to unlock lignans. Nevertheless, whole flaxseeds still offer fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, so they are by no means worthless.

    Once ground up, the fatty acids in flax start to oxidize — bad news from a health standpoint. If you grind your own flax seeds, only grind as much as you need. Alternatively, store any unused ground flax in the freezer.

    It’s fine to buy pre-packaged flaxmeal, too. Simply make sure it is in a container that does not allow light to pass through, and check for an expiration date that is several months away from the date of purchase.  Some health food stores place flaxmeal in a refrigerator or freezer, which I think is a wonderful idea. Once opened, always store ground flax in the freezer.

    As for roasting flaxseeds: it brings out their nutty flavor, but does not affect lignan content in any way. And, whereas flax oil is too fragile to stand up to heat, whole seeds are much more resilient.


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