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Flax Facts

Due to its high oil content, flaxseed (linseed) is most commonly used to produce linseed oil, but this seed also contains various essential nutrients, including iron, niacin, calcium, vitamin E and phosphorous. Relatively new to culinary applications, flaxseed currently is found predominately in the health-food arena. Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid, which is thought to help lower triglycerides without increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol, as well as aid in coronary health, brain development and growth. Flax is also high in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, which research is showing may help fight cancer.

Flaxseed has a mild, somewhat nut-like flavor. In its whole form, it can be sprinkled onto numerous dishes or incorporated into stir-fries, stews, soups and grain-based applications. It can also be sprouted and used in salads, sandwiches, vegetable side dishes or center-of-the-plate presentations. Additionally, flaxseed can be used in baked goods, both in whole and flour forms.

When mixed with liquids, flaxseed flour has a gelatinous quality similar to that of egg whites. Such a mixture can be used in place of eggs to add body to baked goods, although because flaxseed contains no gluten and does not add to the leavening effect, leaveners need to be added and adjusted accordingly.

Because of its high polyunsaturated fat content, flaxseed is subject to rancidity and should either be refrigerated or frozen in an air-tight container. It can be stored for up to six months whole, but for shorter periods in its ground form.

Food professionals looking for "new" ingredient possibilities for food preparation may want to take a look at flaxseed. It not only tastes good, but lends a health benefit to food products ranging from packaged goods to fresh and frozen applications. As nutraceutical foods increase in popularity, research on flaxseed applications, as well as processing forms, will continue to present interesting opportunities for product designers.



Flaxseed Muffins
Formula:

Ingredients% by Weight

Whole-grain pastry flour..............................38%
Baking powder.............................................1%
Sugar...........................................................6%
Flaxseed.......................................................3%
Milk............................................................29%
Butter, melted...............................................6%
Eggs...........................................................17%

Total:100.00%

Procedure:
  Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all dry ingredients, including flaxseed. Combine liquid ingredients in a separate bowl, beating thoroughly. Add the liquid to the dry, and mix just until incorporated. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the muffins begin to brown and they test as done. Serve with jellies, jams or butter spreads.



 
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