Flaxseed, Flaxmeal, or Flaxseed Oil?

Super Food 1

Flaxseeds are an old food, dating back to 4000BC. There are two varieties- brown and golden, which have similar nutritional characteristics. But the question is, which is better?- flaxseed, meal or oil. The answer is… it depends. Yet, I kind of have a soft spot for flaxmeal.

* FOR THE FULL BENEFIT: Flaxseed meal is a fancy way of saying crushed/ground flaxseeds. Our bodies are able to digest it better than whole flaxseeds. They are the highest in fiber (therefore aid in digestion), omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory), and phytochemicals called lignans.

* TO AID CONSTIPATION: Whole flaxseeds, on the other hand, tend to pass through our intestine undigested, which means that we don’t absorb all of the nutrients. They can have a laxative effect (if taken with enough fluid) and can relieve constipation.

* FOR HEALTHY FATS: Flaxseed oil does not have fiber or healthy lignans, since they are both found in the fibrous part of the plant. Yet, it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Seed, meal and oil have been used to help reduce total blood cholesterol and the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels, lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels, and have even shown to be protective against hormone-dependent cancer.


Buy it… in grocery store or health food store.

Store it… in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, flaxmeal has a shorter shelf-life than flaxseeds, 2-4 and 6-12 months respectively.

Use it… in hot or cold cereals, sauces/condiments like mustard or light mayo, yogurt, homemade smoothies, casseroles, baked into cookies, muffins, or breads, or sprinkle some on whole-wheat waffles! Flaxseed oil has a nice nutty taste that can be added to salads or eaten with almond butter on toast.

Best brand… the one that only has 1 ingredient.

Cooking tips: the omega-3 content found in flaxseed/meal remains stable and intact while cooking in high heat. On the other hand, flax oil does not.

Bottom line: Adding flax to your diet is an easy way to increase your daily dose of omega-3, fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Start with 1 tablespoon and slowly (and as tolerated) add up to 3 tablespoons a day.

Note: the omega-3 fatty acids found in flax is Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). Unfortunately, the body has to convert ALA to EPA and DHA (EicosaPentaenoic Acid and DocosaHexaenoic Acid), the fatty acid found in fish oil, so ALA isn’t as efficient. Therefore, you have to eat more flax to benefit from the same amount of fish oil.

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University of Maryland Medical Center.
The World’s Healthiest Foods.