Flax packs in healthy fat, fibre and protein: 'This is not just an oil anymore,' says Shape Foods

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags flax seed Linseed oil Fibre Protein healthy oil omega-3 by-product

The healthy fat profile of flax oil, high in omega-3 fatty acids, means manufacturers have traditionally focused on this. But the seeds also contain protein, fibre and lignin, all of which are interesting 'stealth health' ingredients, the company says.

The naturally high levels of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in flax seeds has meant its popularity, as a plant-based source of healthy oil, is on the increase.

At this year’s IFT in Chicago, FoodNavigator caught up with Canadian supplier Shape Foods which spent six years working with the Canadian agriculture board, University of Manitoba and other partners developing a flax seed variety that has an ALA content of close to 70%.

‘A chameleon oil’

Business development manager Adam Maas said: “We’re really looking at innovation – how we can offer our products and ideas to our customers so that their research and development (R&D) can come up with more sustainable, healthy and plant-based products.”

Flax oil does not have a high smoke point and so is not suitable for all frying applications but Maas said it works well in baked products.

Describing it as “a chameleon​”, Maas said it can also be added to smoothies to give a creamy texture without changing the taste.

‘We’re not just an oil anymore’

Shape Foods has noticed manufacturers becoming increasingly adventurous with flax, interested in using not just the oil but the protein and fibre too.

Flax milk and infusions with yoghurt are rising in popularity while flax meal can be used as a fortifying ingredient, bringing added nutrients to bakery products and even chocolate, he said.

“It’s a matter of getting that message out and letting people know we’re here. This has always been available and it’s not just an oil anymore. We can use every by-product of the press.”

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