Flaxseed Or Flaxseed Oil?


The following post was written by Michelle Delaney, a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (RD, LDN). Make sure to check out her last post on Acai Berry Allergies.
“Take this, take that. No, this one is better than that one.” I’m sure you have heard this plenty of times. With all of the flaxseedinformation out there it’s no wonder why people get confused. As a Registered Dietitian, I get a lot of these questions. So today, I am going to give you some information on one of the many frequently asked questions. What is the difference between flaxseed and flaxseed oil pills?

Flaxseed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum, L.). Flaxseed and flaxseed oil contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA belongs to the group of omega-3 fatty acids and has been found to provide heart-healthy benefits such as lowering total cholesterol and Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (aka the “bad” cholesterol). ALA has also been found to lower triglycerides, lower blood pressure and help with other health conditions. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil also offer an omega-3 option for vegetarians instead of fish oil.
So which one is better? According to Healthcastle.com, the answer is flaxseed. The reason is that although flaxseed oil pills contain a concentrated amount of ALA, the pill form lacks fiber and lignan that can be found in the regular flaxseed. Lignan is a type of antioxidant phytoestrogen that may have cancer-fighting abilities. Also, the high concentration of ALA may appear to be beneficial in flaxseed oil, but high intakes may be linked to prostate cancer (although more research is needed).
How much should you take? The exact amount of flaxseed to take in order to gain the benefits is unknown. Healthcastle.com states that “most studies investigated the doses between 10 to 50 grams of raw, ground flaxseed. Some studies reported that an intake of 45 g of flaxseed has laxative effects.” Dietary supplements including flaxseed are recommended as a part of an overall healthy lifestyle and should not replace any foods. Use caution when starting taking any dietary supplement and be sure to speak with your healthcare provider prior to consuming any supplement.


Michelle Delaney RD, LDN




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