The best organic flaxseed oil choice is refrigerated for its entire life span, has added lignans, and is processed without chemicals. Delicate and likely to spoil easily, flaxseed oil requires careful, low-temperature transport, storage and processing to preserve its nutrients. The shelf life of flaxseed oil is shorter than most oils, lasting roughly three months unopened. Once opened, it can be used for six weeks without spoiling.
Organic flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients needed for optimum functioning of the brain. Vegetarians particularly like flaxseed oil because it offers a vegan alternative to fish oils, which are the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids for many people. Also known as linseed oil, flaxseed oil is made from seeds of the flax plant.
Beyond brain benefits, organic flaxseed oil has also been credited by some researchers with the ability to prevent or mitigate heart disease, osteoporosis, and various cancers. The healing power of flaxseed oil comes primarily from lignans, which are protective nutrients found in the fiber of flaxseeds. Research suggests that lignans can suppress prostate cancer, endometriosis, and breast cancer in some patients. Many oils are filtered, however, and do not retain significant lignans from the flaxseeds. The best choice, according to some nutritionists, is organic flaxseed oil, which specifically says on the label that lignans have been added.
Some companies use hexane, a chemical solvent, to extract flaxseed oil from seeds. Many consumers, however, are allergic to hexane or choose to use foods without traces of chemicals. Cold-pressing and expeller-pressing, both of which extract oils without chemicals at low temperatures to preserve quality and prevent spoiling, are seen by many as the two best methods of processing organic flaxseed oil.
Spoiled organic flaxseed oil is often difficult to detect. It may or may not have a telltale odor or taste. The effects of imbibing spoiled oil regularly, however, are significant. Some researchers suggest that the free radicals in the spoiled oil can encourage cancer, defeating the original cancer-fighting properties of flaxseed. This is why it is best, according to some nutritionists, to choose refrigerated oil as opposed to oil sitting on a room-temperature shelf in a store.
Consumers ordering online often consider a company that will agree to ship the organic flaxseed oil on dry ice in a refrigerated container. Other consumers choose to simply have the oil shipped during winter months only. Upon receipt, the flaxseed oil is generally placed in the refrigerator, only removed briefly to be used, and then put back.