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Further compositional analyses of flax: Mucilage, trypsin inhibitors and hydrocyanic acid


Registered Canadian cultivars of flax, and laboratory-prepared and commercially obtained samples of linseed meal (LM), were used to determine extract viscosity and mucilage, trypsin inhibitors and hydrocyanic acid (HCN) concentrations. The mucilage readily leached out from the seed coat (hull) fragments soaked in water, leaving behind pentagon-shaped cells that could be seen clearly in scanning electron micrographs. Extract viscosity significantly varied in the laboratory-prepared (23–48 cS) and commercially obtained (30–68 cS) samples of LM and may be used to obtain an indirect, qualitative estimate of flax mucilage. Mucilage was extracted from whole seed in 5.0–5.3% yields and contained 20–24% protein (about 10% ash and 30% total carbohydrates). Laboratory-prepared LM (raw) contained 42–51 units of trypsin inhibitor activity, commercially obtained samples, 14–37 units, and raw rapeseed and soybean meals, 99 and 1650 units, respectively. Picric acid tests (qualitative) showed only traces of HCN in ten cultivars of freshly ground flax. The acid silver nitrate titration procedure measured HCN quantitatively, but showed its presence only in three of the five cultivars investigated. HCN was conveniently measured by a colorimetric procedure (barbituric acidpyridine reaction), which may be used to screen flax cultivars. HCN content of flax was significantly influenced by environments (growth location and season) and, to a less extent, by cultivar.

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Bhatty, R.S. Further compositional analyses of flax: Mucilage, trypsin inhibitors and hydrocyanic acid. J Am Oil Chem Soc 70, 899–904 (1993).

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Key words

  • Extract viscosity
  • flax
  • hydrocyanic acid
  • linseed meal
  • mucilage