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I haven't prepared or eaten flaxseed before. I just purchased a bag from Sprouts Farmers Market in their bulk section. The flaxseed appears to already be ground up. Do I need to wash or cook/heat these before consumption?

Also, is it true they contain cyanide? I can't find anything in wikipedia about this.

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What does the label say? Do you have an image? –  SAJ14SAJ Jul 9 '13 at 1:58
    
It is unusual for plants to contain cyanide - all edible examples I can think of are members of a single genus, Prunus, and flaxseed is from a different genus, Linum. So statistically, it is not very probable that flaxseed has it. Please note that this is not a definitive no, but just a guess. –  rumtscho Jul 9 '13 at 10:41
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the flaxseed appears to be small brown pieces (like 'hundreds and thousands') then it has to be ground before it can be used. I use an ordinary food processor to do this - the same attachment for grinding coffee beans or creating sugar powder. The result is a light brown powder.

This should be stored in an air-tight container to prevent oxidation. The ground seeds shouldn't be kept for more than a week or so as they lose their effectiveness the longer they are kept.

There is no need to wash or cook the seeds. I add the powder to my morning yoghurt - it's supposed to help lower cholesterol levels amongst other properties.

I have heard that the stone of an apricot contains cyanide - but not flaxseed (otherwise I wouldn't be here to be writing this!).

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