Flaxseed Oil: Putting it to Good Use
by Doh Driver
You know you need it. You’ve read about it, you’ve heard about it, and you’ve talked about it. Flaxseed oil is a hot topic these days. Yet if you’ve gone so far as to buy it, you may still be wondering what to do with it. Some people enjoy its buttery, nutty taste, but to me and others, it has an unpleasant, just-tolerable taste. If the oil is languishing in your fridge, the following suggestions may help you put it to use.
If you haven’t bought flaxseed oil yet, several companies produce quality cold-pressed oil. They are easily found, refrigerated, in health food stores. Peruse vegetarian magazines for coupons. Do check the ingredient list – some use a blend of oils or add flavors that are not vegan.
The general dose recommendation is 1000 mg per 100 lb body weight. One tablespoon of the oil provides roughly 1000 mg. When adding oil to your diet, consider how much you already get from other sources, such as walnuts and olive oil. If you often eat other omega-3 rich foods, adjust downward. Too much oil is laxative, but otherwise it’s not considered harmful to take too much.
Babies, toddlers 20-30 lbs: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
Children 30-50 lbs: 1 teaspoon
Children 50-75 lbs: 2 teaspoons
Kids 75-100 lbs: 1 Tablespoon
Over 100 lbs, adjust up
GETTING IT INTO BABIES’ DIETS
Breastmilk: If you’re nursing, you can consume flaxseed oil and the beneficial oil will not only make its way into your breastmilk, the DHA (decosahexamine acid) will already be converted to its easily metabolized form, omega-3, ready to go straight to work in your little one’s developing body. Perfect! And as long as your child breastfeeds, you can deliver the essential fatty acid to her or him in this manner. Nursing mothers can consume 1000-1500 mg per day.
Formula: If you are not nursing and your baby is not yet on solid foods, all European baby formulas contains DHA, however, I do not know if they are vegan. If you have a contact in Europe, you might consider having them find out and ship it to you. Yes, it’s that important. Of course, we don’t all have friends in Europe. In lieu of that, ask your pediatrician if (s)he can recommend a dose and a way to supplement your baby’s formula.
Introductory solid foods: If you are nursing and taking flaxseed oil supplements, you won’t need to add it to your baby’s solid foods. If your baby is on American formula and has begun to eat solid foods, you can add flaxseed oil to solids in moderation (it has a laxative effect if too much is consumed). In a babyfood jar, use a few drops – no more than 1/8 t. Some babies have trouble converting the DHA in the oil to omega-3 fatty acid. Talk to your pediatrician when considering supplementing.
FOR TODDLERS, OLDER KIDS, AND ADULTS
Shakes and smoothies: It’s especially nice to use the cinnamon-flavored oil by Spectrum, however, avoid their cherry flavor as it is not vegan (contains fish oil).
Nut Butters: Pour off the separated oil when you open a new jar of nut butter (save the oil for Asian dishes), and replace it measure for measure with flaxseed oil.
Hot cereals: Add oil to slightly cooled cereal.
Vegetables: Use as you would ‘butter.’ Pour a small amount over raw or cooked-and-cooled veggies; stir to coat. If the flavor is too strong, use less and combine with vegan spread or seasonings.
Fruits: Purees such as applesauce can get the flaxseed oil treatment. Fruits served with soy yogurt can be lightly coated in oil. Some kids will happily dip apple slices in the oil.
Juices: Add appropriate amount to your child’s favorite juice – it’s unlikely they’ll notice. If they do, cut back on the amount.
Sauces, dressings and dips: Add oil once the sauce has cooled to serving temperature. Add to salad dressings (your favorite brand, or make your own). Works well in gravies, tomato sauce, pesto, veggie dips, hummus, ketchup.