Cold pressed flaxseed oil is a supplement made from the seeds of a flax plant that has been processed at a minimum temperature to preserve its integrity. In some oil-making processes, heat is added to increase product yield but results in degraded flavor and nutrition. When considering purchasing flaxseed oil, the cold pressed variety is usually more expensive but is of optimal quality for taste and health benefits. This type of oil is abundant in essential fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic, or omega-3, fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are said to protect the body from numerous ailments, including heart disease, hypertension and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
In deriving flaxseed oil, the oil is extracted from flaxseeds that have been ground into a paste. The paste is stirred very slowly to encourage oil in it to clump. The oil is then withdrawn, either by mixing the paste with warm water or by using slight heat before it is pressed. An alternate method uses an oiled stone to press oil from the paste.
Expeller pressed flaxseed oil can also be labeled as cold pressed if the temperature doesn't rise a great deal during the process — though "expeller pressed" usually means that a higher heat and pressure environment was applied to help break down the seeds. An "expeller cold pressed oil" label can clarify the circumstances. "Cold pressed" label requirements differ depending on where the flaxseed or other types of cold pressed oils were manufactured. For an oil to be considered cold pressed in Europe, it cannot have been processed with temperatures exceeding 80° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius).
In the United States, cold pressed oils aren’t standardized and may not be as genuine. Consumers are encouraged to discern the quality of cold pressed flaxseed oil by taste and smell. The best oils have a light and nutty taste.
This oil is usually found in health food groceries and supplement stores. It easily spoils with exposure to light and oxygen. The best cold pressed flaxseed oil is stored in a tinted glass bottle and needs to be refrigerated at all times. It has a short shelf life and needs to be consumed within a few weeks after opening.
Flaxseed oil supplements are available as a liquid and as a soft gel capsule. The liquid version isn’t meant to be used as cooking oil, though it can be added to cooked foods afterward. Liquids are often used in dips, dressings and smoothies.