Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Oil Pills:

which one is better?

heart smart diet healthy nutrition

Written by  
Published in Aug 2006; Updated in Aug 2011

( Flaxseeds have been touted as a super food in the past decade. Most of us heard that these tiny seeds are good for our heart, and that we should eat more of. However, don't confuse flaxseeds with flax seed oil! They are two completely different products.

Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Oil Pills? Choose Flaxseed.

  • Flaxseed has anti-cancerous lignan
    Flaxseed oil pills provide a concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acids. However, it does not contain other beneficial ingredients such as fiber and lignan found in the actual flaxseed. Lignan is a type of antioxidant phytoestrogen. Research revealed that lignan in flaxseed shows promising results in fighting disease, particularly cancer. Studies show that lignan possesses anti-cancer properties. Results were most promising in breast cancer prevention. It is thought that lignan metabolites can bind to estrogen receptors, hence inhibiting the onset of estrogen-stimulated breast cancer.

  • Flaxseed oil pills have high concentration of alpha-linolenic acids, which are linked to prostate cancer
    Although still controversial, high intake of alpha-linolenic acids has been linked to higher risk of prostate cancer. Since alpha-linolenic acids is an essential nutrient and cannot be produced by the body, eliminating it from the diet is not recommended. Hence, flaxseed offers a safer option in men as it contains fewer alpha-linolenic acids than flaxseed oil. Until more is known, men who are not vegetarians are recommended to choose fish source for heart-healthy omega 3 instead of plant-sourced alpha-linolenic acids.

How much Flaxseed?

There is no clear recommendation of how much flaxseed one should take to reap the heart-healthy benefits. 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.

Who should not take flaxseed products?

It is recommended to always speak to your doctor before starting any new dietary supplements. The Natural Standard Research Collaboration cautions the following individuals to speak to your doctor before taking flaxseed products. These include people with bleeding disorders and type 2 diabetes, pregnant women and women with hormone-sensitive conditions such as endometriosis, as well as men at risk of prostate cancer.

    Ways to include flaxseed in your diet

  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your cereal and salads.
  • Choose products added with flaxseed such as bread, cereal or other baked goods.
  • Substitute flaxseed mixture for eggs in home baking such as muffin and pancake (1 tbsp milled flaxseed, plus 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). Final products will have less volume and taste gummier.
  • Include ground flaxseed in recipe when nutty flavor is preferred
  • Substitute flaxseed oil for other oils. However, flaxseed oil breaks down with heat, so it is best not to cook flaxseed oil.

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