The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

Shoppers and Trends

May 29, 2007

Flax Seeds

Dear Phil,

How do we clean & wash flaxseed? Is it necessary to grind the seeds? Could we just soak them overnight instead of grinding, and cook them with oatmeal for half an hour before consuming? Is it digestible at that point?

Fred L.

Dear Fred,

The flaxseeds that are available in stores are generally ready for use - no cleaning and washing necessary. It is not necessary to grind the seeds, but grinding them does allow the seed to be broken up, thus making it easier to digest. However, grinding the seeds exposes them to oxidation, so if you choose to grind them, consume them immediately after doing so. Soaking the seeds breaks down the hard outer shells and allows for mucilage (a slippery, natural laxative) to develop. It also expands flax to 20 times its volume.

Heat destroys the beneficial effects of flax, so I recommend using it raw or adding it to your oatmeal once cooked. Flax is digestible in all forms, but it is slightly harder for the body to digest the whole seed when the outer shell is not broken down. Finally, after eating flax, be sure to drink plenty of water - it is important to do so when adding any type of fiber to your diet.