Flax is a plant that produces nutritious seeds. When these seeds are cold milled, they are reduced to a convenient and highly beneficial form. Cold milled flax is produced by a method that lacks heat or excessive light, which allows all of the seeds' nutritional benefits to be preserved. It can be consumed purely for its nutritional benefits or to help combat conditions such as high cholesterol and constipation.
Flax is an annual self-pollinated plant which produces bolls. The bolls contain flax seeds, which are commonly hailed for their health benefits. Although these seeds are nutritious, providing nutrients such as essential fatty acids and protein, a person cannot gain any nutritional value from them if they are eaten whole. It is believed by many that cold milling is the best process to use when making flax seeds consumable.
There are several ways that flax seeds can be processed, but they generally have drawbacks. If the seeds are crushed, the essential fatty oils are lost. If flax seeds are subjected to grinding there is usually heat generated by the blades that causes the omega-3 to break down and the portion that remains will only be good for approximately two days.
Cold milled flax, however, involves chopping the seeds without heating the mill blades or allowing them to become heated. This process, often called real cold milling, reduces the flax seeds in the most beneficial way. This is because all of the nutrients are preserved including the protein, the lignans, the fiber, and the omega-3 fatty acids.
The process of producing cold milled flax actually does not involve low temperatures. Instead, the flax seeds are kept at room temperature throughout the process. Afterward, they are packaged away from heat and stored away from light. If it is kept in cool conditions and away from sunlight, cold milled flax can have a shelf life that exceeds 18 months. When flax seed is exposed to excessive light or heat, it tends to become rancid. A turpentine odor or a foul taste can usually be taken as indicators that this has happened.
Cold milled flax is commonly organic. It is consumed by many people primarily for the omega-3 benefits. It is also the richest source of lignans, which help to balance estrogen levels. In addition to these benefits, cold milled flax is also believed to be good for boosting the immune system, reducing cholesterol, and fighting constipation.