The ancient Egyptians were big fans of the flax plant. They used its seeds to create fibers for things like clothes and fishing nets, and even wrapping for mummies (yep, seriously). But they likely ate the seeds, too. And today, we’re still using flax seeds, also known as linseeds, in a variety of ways. They’re used to make linen for bed sheets, for example. But they’re also a nutritional powerhouse, making them a popular cereal ingredient. And, in recent years, as the non-dairy milk market has grown, they’ve also been used to make milk.
It might sound a bit odd to drink milk from something that can also be used to make the sheets you sleep on but trust us: flaxseed milk is tasty, nutritious, and versatile. In fact, it might just become your new go-to. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is flaxseed milk?
Today, many different plants, nuts, and seeds can be used to make alternatives to cow’s milk, and flax seeds are no exception. The process of turning them into milk is relatively simple, as it involves mixing either blended flaxseeds or cold-pressed flaxseed oil with water. (Try this at home with your own blender, and you’ll notice that, after a while, the liquid starts to look satisfyingly milky!) After that, the mixture is often strained or filtered to remove any residue (but not always).
Good Karma, one of the leading flax milk brands, also puts all of its products through a “steam-infused ultra-high temperature pasteurization process,” just like cow’s milk. According to the brand, this exposure lasts only a few seconds, and “helps to preserve the taste and nutrition” as well as ensuring “safety and quality.”
Plus, as an extra bonus, because flaxseed milk is made with seeds and not nuts (and it’s free from dairy!), it’s usually a safe choice for most food allergy sufferers.
Flaxseed milk nutrition
Flaxseeds are renowned for their health benefits and have even been given the much-coveted “superfood” title by some experts. This is because they are packed with nutrients like fiber, thiamine, protein, manganese, lignans (an antioxidant-rich plant compound), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. In fact, they are one of the best food sources of ALA, as one teaspoon of oil can contain more than six grams.
Flaxseed milk vs cow’s milk
If you’re considering switching from cow’s milk to flaxseed milk, the latter can offer more than just nutritional benefits. Unlike the dairy industry (which farms more than nine million cows in the US every year), its production requires zero living creatures. This is not just better for the animals, but it’s also far better for the planet.
Animal agriculture contributes 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gasses and requires huge amounts of land and water to sustain. Flax crops, on the other hand, have a smaller carbon footprint and require fewer natural resources. Flax specialists at Manitoba Milling Co. confirm that the plant doesn’t need any irrigation, for example, as it grows “quick and healthy without dousing with water.”
In 2018, the biggest-ever food production analysis suggested that ditching meat and dairy and adopting a plant-based diet was one of the best ways to reduce a person’s impact on the planet. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use,” Joseph Poore, the study’s lead researcher, said at the time.
What does flaxseed milk taste like?
Flaxseed milk is slightly creamy, mild, and a little nutty, although it’s not as nutty as some other plant-based milk on the market, like almond or hazelnut, for example. And while some non-dairy milk can be a little thin and watery, like rice milk, flaxseed milk is slightly thicker. In fact, it’s kind of like cow’s milk, so you may not notice a huge difference in texture when you pour it on your cereal or use it to make a latte.
How to use flaxseed milk
Just like any plant-based or dairy milk product, you can use flaxseed milk in a variety of different ways. It’s great on cereal or in coffee, for example, or you can add it to a shake, a smoothie, or a steaming mug of hot chocolate. You can also use it in baking, or use it as a sauce base when you’re cooking.
Best flaxseed milk brands
For anyone who uses milk in their day-to-day life (and let’s be honest, that’s most of us), flaxseed is well worth a try. So, next time you’re stocking up your fridge, here are some of the best brands to buy vegan flaxseed milk from.
1 Good Karma
Just over 10 years ago, Good Karma was one of the first brands on the flaxseed milk scene. At the time, its main priority was to create a dairy-free beverage that most allergy sufferers could enjoy. But the Colorado-based brand has since developed a range of creamy, nutritious flax milk products that cater to everyone, regardless of dietary requirements. Try its Unsweetened Flaxmilk + Protein, for example, which also contains added vitamin D2, B12, and pea protein.
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2 Malibu Mylk
Malibu Mylk, which, as you may have guessed, is based in Los Angeles, hit grocery stores for the first time back in 2019. As well as shelf-stable options like Unsweetened Flax Mylk and Unsweetened Flax + Oat Milk, it also recently launched a canned ready-to-drink range. The Flax + Oat Mylk Coffee features organic beans, while the Mylk Matcha is made with ceremonial grade matcha. Both boast three grams of fiber per serving.
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Manitoba Milling Co.
3 Manitoba Milling Co.
In western Manitoba, Canada, the Pizzey family has been growing flaxseed for generations, so they’re quite the experts on the crop’s potential. This is why they decided to launch flax milk through their consumer brand, Manitoba Milling Company, in 2017. Right now, its Unsweetened and Sweetened varieties are only available in the US, but, if you feel like trying your hand at making your own flax milk, you can buy its whole-milled flaxseed straight from its website.
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Not content with using just one seed, Brooklyn-based plant-based milk brand Lechia decided to combine the nutritional benefits of flaxseed with those of chia seeds, which means that its vanilla-flavored Chia & Flax Milk is loaded with nutrients. And it’s also creamy and delicious, of course.
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