Am I correct in assuming that chewing flax seeds does not release significant amounts of lignans [like grinding them up]?
If I grind a whole bunch of flax seeds in advance – in a coffee grinder – do they lose effectiveness over time?
I usually buy roasted flax seeds – any pros or cons associated with them being roasted?
– Jake Shields
Your assumption is correct.
The hyper-healthful lignans in flaxseeds are only bioavailable if the seeds are ground up. It would take significant (and kind of physically impossible) chewing of each seed to unlock the same amount of lignans that grinding them up for a few seconds achieves.
Whole flaxseeds still offer fiber, though. While nutritionally inferior to their ground up counterparts (aka “flax meal”), they are not useless.
The fatty acids in flax meal oxidize more quickly than those in whole flax seeds, but lignan content is unaffected. By the way, you can greatly decrease the oxidation rate of your flaxmeal by storing it in the freezer.
Also, it is perfectly okay to buy pre-packaged flaxmeal at a store. Simply make sure it is in a container that does not allow any light in, and check for an expiration date that is several months away from the date of purchase. Some health food stores place flaxmeal in a refrigerator or freezer, which I think is a wonderful idea.
Toasting whole flaxseeds brings out their nutty flavor, but does not help make their lignan content more available.