Edible oils like flaxseed oil have gained attention for their potential health benefits, as more Americans increase their awareness of how diet influences health. Flaxseed oil comes from the seed of the flax plant, known scientifically as Linum usitatissimum, and is sometimes called linseed oil. You can get the oil directly from the seeds and from commercially produced oil. These days, this nutritious oil is found in a wide array of foods.
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Flaxseed Oil Nutrition
Flaxseed oil is a good plant source of omega-3 fat. It's rich in the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, which your body converts to two other essential fats, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. EPA and DHA are the heart-healthy omega-3 fats found in fish oil. Scientists think flaxseed oil may have the same benefits as fish oil. However, it's unclear how efficient the body is at converting ALA to EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fats, particularly EPA and DHA, may reduce inflammation and fight chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Flax Seeds in Baked Goods
Flaxseeds are rich in fat, containing 40 to 45 percent oil. However, whole seeds are difficult to digest. To fully take advantage of the oil within the seed, flaxseeds must be ground. Flaxseeds are ground into meal and added to a variety of baked goods like bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins, cookies, crackers, biscuits and bagels. Whole flaxseeds are also sometimes used in baked goods. Whole or ground, flaxseeds add a nutty flavor to baked foods if they compose 6 to 8 percent of the dry components in the recipe, according to Purdue University.
An Edible Oil Replacement
Many consumers are concerned with their fat intake and want to replace saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats. Some food producers are taking notice of this and adding flaxseed to foods in place of or mixed with other edible oils. For example, flaxseed oil is added to butter spread, peanut butter, almond butter and other nut butters. These foods are often marketed as healthier versions.
Other Foods Containing Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is added to some ready-to-eat cereals, granola bars, fiber bars, breakfast drinks, salad dressings, pastas, milk products, jams and jellies, gravies and sauces, plant protein products, fish products, snack foods, baking mixes, puddings, gelatin, nut products, sweet sauces and even hard candies. Many foods containing flaxseed oil are found at health food stores, but more and more are popping up on the shelves of your local grocer.