Flaxseedis available as whole seeds, as flaxseed meal, and as flaxseed oil. All forms are available in health-food stores, and flaxseed oil can also be found in stores selling supplements. Also, due to its rise in health claims, flax is now available in cereals, baked goods, and other processed foods.
How to choose the best flaxseed
If you buy the whole seeds in bulk from a health-food store, sniff them to make sure they have not turned rancid. Over-the-hill flaxseeds will smell like oil paint. Ground flaxseed, with its increased surface area, is much more prone to rancidity than the whole seeds. It’s best to buy whole seeds and grind them at home.
Flaxseed oil easily turns rancid. Therefore, you should buy oil that comes in an opaque bottle and from a store that keeps their flaxseed oil refrigerated.
How to store flaxseed
Transfer whole seeds to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. The whole seeds should keep well for up to a year. Grind only as much as you need at one time. If you have leftover ground flaxseed, freeze in a sealed container for up to six months.
If you do buy the pre-ground meal, store it in the freezer.Sniff the meal before using it.Store flaxseed oil in the refrigerator. If the oil goes rancid, discard it.
How to use flaxseed
Your body can’t derive any nutritional benefit from flaxseed if you consume the seeds whole. Whole flaxseed passes right through your body. So ground (milled) flaxseed is best. You can buy prepared flaxseed meal, but because of its high fat content, the ground seeds can go rancid quickly. You’re better off grinding your own, using a coffee grinder or mini food processor.