Update: March 2014
I wanted to update this post to reflect some new learnings, many of which were brought to light by my kind readers in the comments. Some studies on the effects of baking with flaxseed show that the whole flaxseed is heat stable when used in baking.
I initially wrote this post when I was in the throes of nutrition school. I was totally overwhelmed by new, exciting and terrifying information, and overly enthusiastic to share (and preach a l’il bit) to others. Three years later, I’ve learned to distinguish between the bad, the not-so-bad, the okay, the good and the freaking great. I’ve cultivated mindfulness and balance (practices I’m working on every day!).
Honestly, I still don’t use flaxgel in my baking, but this is due to habit now. If you’d like to use flaxgel, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Happy baking!
Flax gel is a common substitute for eggs in vegan baking. I use it constantly in recipes like my tried-and-true sunflower flax bread (pictured above) and my new obsession, grain and vegetable crackers.
I thought using ground flax would add an extra boost of nutrition to my baked goods. Until I learned that it doesn’t. Frak!
Let me break it down for you:
Flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which happen to be very good for us in their raw, unprocessed form. Unfortunately, the chemical nature of omega 3s render them extremely sensitive to heat, light and air.
Heating ground flax seeds results in a loss of nutrients and – here’s the sucky part – creates free radicals. Pesky free radicals damage our cells, reduce our immunity and leave us susceptible to disease. Um, no thank you.
So after sharing countless recipes that include ground flax seed, what can I say?
I’m sorry I didn’t know this earlier. And I feel very grateful to be studying holistic nutrition, where I’m learning so much about the impact of food on our bodies.
Can all those recipes be salvaged? I think so. Instead of flax, I’ll try egg replacer powder, applesauce, bananas or tofu. I may have to play around with some of the other ingredients, but it’s a small price to pay for my health.
Was I the only one in the dark about this? Does this information surprise you, or was I just the last one to know?