How Well Do You Know Your Flax?

  1. New Member
    Draven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Age
    36
    Posts
    418
    Rep Power
    354
    Level
    20
    Lv. Percent
    10.66%

    How Well Do You Know Your Flax?


    How Well Do You Know Your Flax?

    As flax continues to gain popularity in the market place it is easy to see why this traditional grain is quickly becoming the newest super food to grace the shelves of grocery and health food stores. Flax seed is a popular source of the omega-3 essential fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is known for its health benefits for the heart, brain, skin, hair, nails and joints. Flax seed contains large quantities of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which are important for digestion, bowel function and regularity. As well, flax seed is the best source of lignans, which are phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens), important for maintaining healthy bones, normal heart function and hormonal balance. Early research shows that lignans may also help reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer, particularly hormone-sensitive cancers of the breast and colon. Flax seed contains vitamins, minerals and protein-just a few more of the nutritional reasons flax should be the food of choice.

    The Great Forms of Flax

    To receive the numerous health benefits flax has to offer, it can be added to the diet in many different ways. Whole seed, milled/ground seed, defatted ground flax, bottled oil and softgels are all convenient and healthful options when choosing flax. However it is important to note that not all forms of flax offer the same nutrition.

    Milled flax seed has become a popular dietary supplement providing omega-3s, lignans and protein. Whole flax seeds contain an outer layer that is difficult to digest unless the seeds are thoroughly chewed. Therefore, when whole flax seeds are consumed, they pass through the digestive system relatively intact. Milling (grinding) the seed makes it more digestible. It can be readily absorbed by the body, providing the full range of nutrition that flax has to offer. If whole flax seeds are purchased, they can be ground with a coffee grinder prior to being consumed.

    Defatted ground flax is a relatively new form of flax, recommended primarily for its fiber and lignan profile. Defatted ground flax is sometimes referred to as meal, powder or flour because it is finely ground and has the majority of the oil removed, resulting in lower moisture content than milled flax. Gram per gram, defatted ground flax offers a higher lignan, protein and fiber content and a lower calorie profile. It can be incorporated into foods in the same way as traditional milled flax, with the added benefit that it can be used in cooking and baking. Defatted ground flax can also be used as an alternative to conventional fiber supplements.

    Flax oil is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Flax oil can be taken by the spoonful or added to salad dressings, blender drinks, yogurt and cereal but cannot be used for cooking, as the high heat will destroy the omega3 fats. Many flax lovers enjoy the light nutty taste that natural flax oil has to offer, but for those who don't, flax oil is also available in easy to swallow softgel capsules.

    It is important to remember that the fiber, protein and lignans will not be found in the oil but only in the milled seed and defatted ground flax. However, some manufacturers offer a high-lignan flax oil, in which the particulate matter containing lignans has been added back into the oil. If consumers are specifically interested in the benefits of lignans, milled seed or defatted ground flax contain significantly higher levels of lignans than high-lignan flax oil.

    However, not all flax is equal in terms of its quality so it is important to know how to choose a quality flax product. An educated consumer is a wise consumer. Most health food store retailers have the knowledge to answer questions related to the quality of flax and consumers should take advantage of their expertise.

    Quality Made Easy

    Walking into a health food store can sometimes be overwhelming, with all the different supplements, brand names and price ranges there are to choose from. That is why a knowledgeable health food retailer is important in guiding consumers toward the supplement that is right for them and their health concerns. There are many different things to consider when choosing a quality flax product including where and how it is grown, processed and stored, whether it has organic certification and what control measures have been taken to ensure freshness and quality. The following are some of the questions that could be asked of the health food retailer when purchasing flax.

    * Where is this flax grown?

    The Canadian Prairies offer a pristine growing environment for oilseed crops such as flax. The cooler northern climate results in higher levels of the beneficial ALA. Temperature, moisture conditions and planting and harvest times can all affect quality.

    * Is this flax oil cold pressed?

    The terms cold pressed and expeller pressed are often used interchangeably. Expeller pressing is a mechanical process that does not utilize solvents such as hexane or other harsh chemicals or high levels of external heat (hence the term "cold" pressed). This results in a higher quality, more stable oil. Natural expeller pressing is an important criterion for judging flax quality.

    * Is this flax certified organic?

    There are numerous organic certifying bodies including Quality Assurance International and the Organic Crop Improvement Association. They ensure that every step in the planting, growing, processing, storing, packaging and transporting of organic flax is done in accordance with organic standards. A laboratory can't tell whether or not a product is organic, so documenting every step is essential. This organic certification "paper trail" proves that the flax has met all the standards of the certifying organization.

    * Was this flax processed in a cmp-certified facility?

    Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are measures that ensure an effective overall approach to product quality control and risk management. They do so by setting appropriate standards and practices regarding product testing, manufacturing, storage, handling and distribution. The goal of GMPs is to provide safe, quality products. Pharmaceuticallevel GMPs have more stringent quality standards than food-level GMP. The GMP certification gives the consumer confidence in the manufacturing facility, which ultimately affects the quality of the end product.

    * Is this flax genetically modified?

    A genetically modified strain (GMO) of flax has been developed; therefore it is important to confirm that the flax being purchased is truly non-GMO. A test developed by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) in Canada can determine the GMO status of flax. The test is done using a probe that has DNA markers from the GMO flax. The test can confirm that these DNA markers are not present in the non-Gmo variety. Very few suppliers utilize DNA testing so being knowledgeable about the flax supplier will confirm whether or not it can be scientifically proven that the flax variety is truly non-GMO.

    * Has this flax been tested for quality parameters?

    A third party laboratory should be testing flax for a variety of quality parameters, to determine microbial levels, the presence or absence of pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals (such as mercury, lead and cadmium) and peroxide. Peroxide values are an important indicator of oil quality and freshness. The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in flax are very reactive to oxygen and can go rancid quickly. High peroxide values are an indicator of oxidation.

    Anisidine level is another indicator of quality flax. Although no established standards exist, it is still a useful indicator of secondary oxidation. Someone purchasing flax oil with high anisidine levels should question what kind of processing that oil has been subjected to, as high levels usually indicate harsh or excessive processing. The test results are reported in a certificate of analysis that should be sent to the manufacturer with every shipment for their records. Testing for these quality control measures ensures a more stable product with a longer shelf life and ensures that no harmful toxins are present.

    * Are these milled flax seeds vacuum sealed? Because of the difficulty of digesting whole flax, it is often milled before packaging. Milled flax seeds should be vacuum sealed to prevent exposure to oxygen (oxygen will cause the oil in the seed to turn rancid). The package should have a zip-lock closure so it can be resealed after opening to preserve the flavor and nutritional components.

    * Is this flax kosher certified?

    The Hebrew word kosher means "fit or proper as it is related to dietary (kosher) laws." Kosher-certified foods are important for the Jewish community and this is a marker showing the food has been permitted or accepted by a rabbi. Although the term kosher dates back thousands of years for traditional foods, it has come to be considered an indicator of quality for products sold in health food stores. Many consumers look for the kosher seal of approval for this reason.

    Golden and Brown Flax

    Industry marketing may have led some consumers to believe that golden flax seeds are better than brown seeds. It is important to know there is minimal difference in the nutritional profile or quality between golden and brown flax. The Flax Council of Canada says that based on previous analysis of both varieties, the effect of seed colour is small. Nutritional equality, not colour, is the important factor. Both varieties offer a rich omega-3 fatty acid content, lignans, fiber and protein.

    Quality Solved

    Not all flax is equal and having the right information is vital for choosing the best flax. Educated consumers asking the right questions will keep manufacturers and suppliers accountable and have a positive impact on the quality of flax available on the market.

    By Karlene Karst

    2003 Total Health. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company

  2. Senior Member
    NPursuit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Age
    37
    Posts
    1,782
    Rep Power
    1035
    Level
    32
    Lv. Percent
    85.65%
    Achievements Activity ProPosting Pro

    Excellent post Draven. One question. You may have come across this in your studies. I heard today that flax oil will turn into a carcinogen when bottled and stored on the shelf. This person suggested only buying flax oil from a retailer that can ship it to you in a cooled state. What are your thoughts on this? Anyone?
  3. New Member
    Draven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Age
    36
    Posts
    418
    Rep Power
    354
    Level
    20
    Lv. Percent
    10.66%

    I have heard something like that aswell but it general pertains to having an open bottle left out of the fridge. As far as I know as long as it's sealed it doesn't require refrigeration. I buy mine from my grocery store and they keep it both in a firdge (In the frozen food type section) and on the dry shelf in another (Health food section).

    Flax oil will break down if exposed to light or air for long periods of time so just keep it closed and refrigerated after it's open and you'll be fine.
    •   
       

  4. Senior Member
    Biggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    1,285
    Rep Power
    789
    Level
    30
    Lv. Percent
    50.12%
    Achievements Activity ProPosting Pro

    carcinogen?... jesus, here I just thought it turned rancid... I just buy it cold, keep it cold. no biggie. tastes better too.
  5. New Member
    Draven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Age
    36
    Posts
    418
    Rep Power
    354
    Level
    20
    Lv. Percent
    10.66%

    Originally posted by Biggin
    carcinogen?... jesus, here I just thought it turned rancid... I just buy it cold, keep it cold. no biggie. tastes better too.
    Yeah, I can't verify that but I've heard it as well. It may just be a myth though.
  6. Senior Member
    NPursuit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Age
    37
    Posts
    1,782
    Rep Power
    1035
    Level
    32
    Lv. Percent
    85.65%
    Achievements Activity ProPosting Pro

    Yeah Poque posted it. I was thinking it would be pretty hard to get a shipment of it cold. I just toss it in my fridge when I get it.
  7. New Member
    quasar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Age
    38
    Posts
    81
    Rep Power
    183
    Level
    9
    Lv. Percent
    27.33%

    Originally posted by Draven
    How Well Do You Know Your Flax?

    It is important to remember that the fiber, protein and lignans will not be found in the oil but only in the milled seed and defatted ground flax. However, some manufacturers offer a high-lignan flax oil, in which the particulate matter containing lignans has been added back into the oil. If consumers are specifically interested in the benefits of lignans, milled seed or defatted ground flax contain significantly higher levels of lignans than high-lignan flax oil.
    This paragraph is BS depending on which manufacturer you go with, pogue said not to waste money on high-lignan preparations and the oil I buy is complete EFA with all lignans intact and NO particulate matter! It's in the refrigerated foods section of my health food store and it's only $6.99, comes in an opaque bottle, is cold-pressed, etc. I didn't like the taste at first but after I mixed it in with nat. PB and a drop of honey in my pro shake, I can't taste it.
  8. Senior Member
    Biggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    1,285
    Rep Power
    789
    Level
    30
    Lv. Percent
    50.12%
    Achievements Activity ProPosting Pro

    Re: Re: How Well Do You Know Your Flax?


    Originally posted by quasar


    pogue said not to waste money on high-lignan preparations and the oil I buy is complete EFA with all lignans intact and NO particulate matter!
    I believe Pogue's statement was based on this bit of info from Udo's (udoerasmus.com or some such), take it as you will fellas.

    "Flax oil contains only about 2% of the lignans found in flax seed. Because lignans are water-soluble, they dissolve very poorly in oil and therefore, when flax oil is pressed, most of the lignans remain in the flax seed cake. 'High lignan' flax oil is 'dirty' flax oil in which the fine seed material suspended in flax oil, when it is pressed, has not been filtered or allowed to settle out, but is permitted to settle to the bottom of the bottle. There, the seed material, which contains lignans, compacts."
  9. New Member
    quasar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Age
    38
    Posts
    81
    Rep Power
    183
    Level
    9
    Lv. Percent
    27.33%

    thanks biggin, I read that but not closely enough... Also, my oil does contain some particulate matter as I noticed today; I'll check for hemp oil next time, the taste couldn't be that bad, right?
  10. New Member
    Technics's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Age
    28
    Posts
    107
    Rep Power
    0
    Level
    9
    Lv. Percent
    56.4%

    Good post Draven
  

  
 

Similar Forum Threads

  1. Replies: 11
    Last Post: 12-06-2010, 02:41 PM
  2. do you know your tesosterone level?
    By shivboy89 in forum Nutrition / Health
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-18-2008, 09:43 PM
  3. How offten do you change your diet?
    By dazilla in forum Nutrition / Health
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-26-2007, 05:05 PM
  4. How Much Do You Love Your Car ???
    By anabolicrhino in forum General Chat
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 04-20-2007, 05:35 PM
  5. QUIZ: How much do you know about what you eat?
    By yeahright in forum Nutrition / Health
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-10-2006, 03:30 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Log in
Log in