The first time I ate flax it was not for the health qualities, it was for the high fiber because I was in Costa Rica and very constipated! Not fun. I started to read up on it when I came home and loved all the health benefits. I then found a cookie recipe with flax! My sister was passing by on a road trip and I gave them to her with the caution of be careful not to eat too many at once or you will be very regular! Well, sisters don’t listen and she had a lot of stops on her trip!! The cookies were so good that she kept eating them and forgot about my warning! So, do eat it in moderation.Flax itself is high in omega 3,6 & 9  fatty acids which are free radical scavengers and can assist in preventing cancer. But, when it is milled with heat or heated or old, and the oils go rancid, it becomes a free radical which has been proven to cause cancer! Flax is also high in fiber, protein and the antioxidant lignans and micronutrients.

Recently, I learned from a well respected doctor and professor, who owns a gluten-free bakery, that flax is very fragile especially when used in baking. The oils can go rancid very easily when heated and after the whole seed is crushed/ground. Although flax can be very healthy when fresh, it can be dangerous when heated or milled with heat.

I met the owners of Premium Gold a farm and mill that specialize in flax and they confirmed that this is true. I asked if I bake with flax, particularly adding it to cookies, how long is the shelf life? They told me it was only….5 days! WOW! That was so eyeopening. They also use a proprietary cold milling method to mill their grains. I was able to smell the fresh flax, and it really does not smell at all when it is fresh. You will know if you smell it and the oils have gone rancid. The taste is a little bitter and nutty and grassy. They make a gluten-free flour that contains flax and some very healthy flours including Quinoa, Buckwheat and Amaranth. However, it still contains xanthan gum, a bacteria/microrganism which I do not use in my recipes. I do think that this alternative/gluten-free flour substitute is one of the best ones I’ve seen on the market.

If you wish to eat and use flaxseed I would suggest that you consider buying organic whole not ground and grind it yourself in small amounts with a spice grinder(pulsing in short intervals to avoid heat) or purchase it online from PremiumGold or a similar company. You can also buy it from a mill that cold mills it, such as Bob’s Red Mill or PremiumGoldflax.com Keep it in the freezer or refrigerator and be mindful of the expiration date. BTW, they are a family owned and operated company by women! 🙂

 Flax is also high in fiber and are powerful natural cholesterol controller. Cholesterol is vital to have and Americans are very misinformed about this subject, but I digress. Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed contains in a 2 Tablespoon serving size (13 grams) the fiber content is 1.33 grams of Soluble Fiber and 2.67 grams of Insoluble Fiber. Ground Flaxseeds are a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In a 2 Tablespoon serving, there is 2400 mg of Omega 3.BTW, you can never eat enough flax seed or oil to get the equivalent of the omegas you would get in good quality fish oil! If you are vegan, please study up on this and consider making an exception and taking fish oil instead of flax.

Flax can be used as an egg substitute by using 1 TBSP. Flaxseeds, ground or Chia seeds + 3 TBSP. filtered water, soak for 15 minutes which is the equivalent of one whole egg. Just remember if you are baking with it, you need to eat it within 5 days.

Cooking with flax oil is not recommended. You may use it if it is fresh to drizzle over food/veggies or salad dressing. I personally do not use it, b/c I don’t like the flavor, it is too unstable and I strongly believe in taking fish oil. I am well versed in this area since my husband is a Naturopathic Doctor and oversaw all the scientific studies(at top universities etc…) for the leading fish oil company! Our Grandparents were right, take a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil everyday and you will be strong and healthy! Some things, many things from the olden days really still ring true!

My conclusion is that I will not be using flax in my commercial baking, but would use cold milled flax at home in things I will consume in a few days. I really like Chia seeds too, but I use them fresh, raw and consume them immediately. See my article on Chia on this blog for more information.