1. The Difference between Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds, also known as linseed, are seeds from the plant Linum usitatissimum. Historically, flaxseed has been woven into linen to make fabric and clothing. Actually, this is how we got the word linen, meaning cloth woven from Linum usitatissimum or flaxseed (1).
Flaxseed can be consumed as a dietary source that is high in fiber and polyunsaturated fats. Flaxseed contains lignins, phytoestrogens that imitates estrogen in the body. Lignins are currently being research for its prevention in cancer (2).
The production of flaxseed oil simply involves the pressing of flaxseeds. Similar to flaxseeds, flaxseed oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated fats. However, flaxseed oil does not contain the beneficial lignins or fiber that are present in normal flaxseed. Flaxseed oil is very similar to fish oil but not as strong smelling. The difference between flaxseed oil and fish oil concerns the form of omega-3 fatty acid. Flaxseed oil is composed of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), but fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. One tablespoon of flaxseed oil is 130 calories and contains 7 grams of alpha linoleic acid (ALA).
2. Health Benefits
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids vital in health. Omega 3s lessen inflammation and omega 6s are proinflammatory. It is important to have a balance the omega 3s and omega 6s in the diet. There should be 2 to 4 times more omega 3s than omega 6s in the diet. However in the American diet, there are more omega-6s consumed than omega 3s. In one tablespoon of flaxseed oil, there are 8 grams of omega-3 and 2 grams of omega-6 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which will reduce inflammation in the body.
Flaxseed oil is known to reduce high cholesterol. Because flaxseed and flaxseed oil have a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, there is the potential to increase the good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. However, this increase in HDL is only moderate.
Some people promote fish oil and flaxseed oil for heart disease. However, there is not dependable scientific evidence for either concept.
Flaxseeds can be used to treat constipation because there are 2.8 grams of fiber in 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds. Experts say to take 5 grams of the seeds and soak them in water, and then consume the soaked seeds in a glass of water 3 times each day to treat constipation(3).
4. Ways to Take Flaxseed and Flaxseed oil.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil can be bought at the grocery. Do not cook with flaxseed oil because the exposure to heat, oxygen, and light will destroy the essential fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is also available in capsule form.
5. Approaches to Get Flaxseed in Your Diet
- Mix into flax seeds into your oatmeal for extra crunch!
- Try flaxseed baked goods like muffins or pancakes!
- Put flaxseed oil on top of a salad or other vegetables!
6. Flaxseed Oil and Spray Drying
Flaxseed oil can be microencapsulated by spray drying with the addition of maltodextrins as the carrier. The resulting powder will have a lower oxidation rate and longer shelf life than that of the original oil.
1. Flexible Flax: Everyday Uses for Flax. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.motherearthliving.com/Plant-Profile/Flexible-Flax
2.Flaxseed. Salem Health: Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2012, p517-519. 3p
3. Flaxseed Oil. Salem Health: Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2012, p519-521. 3p