But, according to a nutritionist, you may not get all of the seeds’ nutrients without doing one important step. Kelly Hogan, a clinical nutrition and wellness manager at Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Cancer center, told HuffPost you must grind flaxseeds to get their full nutritional value.
“Whole flaxseeds can typically pass through the intestines undigested because they cannot naturally break them down,” she said. “If you eat flaxseeds whole, you will likely pass them whole in your stool.”
In order to get all of the omega-3 fatty acids and fiber packed into the tiny flaxseeds, Hogan recommends buying them ground, cutting them up yourself, or putting them in a coffee grinder.
But if you buy the flaxseeds ground, Hogan advises eating them as quickly as possible because of the seeds short shelf life.
“They can start to go rancid fairly quickly – as soon as a few weeks after they are ground,” she said. “This is when the fats start to oxidize, and here is when you can also lose the nutritional benefits of those fats. The taste is also off.”
To keep the seeds fresh, Hogan recommends putting them in an air-tight container in the fridge, or storing them in a similar container in the freezer for up to six months.
She added, “Even better, though, is only grinding however much you need and storing the remainder of your flaxseeds whole in the refrigerator, which can last up to a year.”
Despite the added step of grinding the seeds (or looking out for pre-ground seeds), the benefits definitely outweigh the slight inconvenience.
So get to grinding and get those nutrients!