Flaxseed Oil or Flaxseed Meal– Which is Better?

Question:  Last week you wrote  about flaxseed meal.  What about flaxseed oil?  Its easier to use it in a salad dressing or take a few capsules then  figure ways to add it to food, but do I get the same health benefits?

Answer:  Awesome question!  Both Flaxseed meal and Flaxseed oil  are rich in linoleic acid and omega- 3– both linked to younger looking skin.   The studies on the general health benefits of flaxseed oil are impressive.  In the body, omega-3 is converted to omega -6, the oil that seems to fight aging, heart disease and cancer.  If you’re a vegetarian, vegan or  just don’t like fish, flaxseed oil is a  great source of this valuable nutrient.  Research  supports claims that flaxseed oil can  protect  bone health and reduce inflammation– important  since inflammation is such a big part of asthma, migraines and arthritis.  But wait, there’s more.  Flaxseed  oil is associated  with reduced risk of blood clots, heart attacks and colon cancer.  It can lower both  blood pressure and  cholesterol, reducing  need for statins and  blood pressure medication. 

  But there are definate drawbacks to  flaxseed oil.  First problem is the calorie count.   One tablespoon of  flaxseed oil has 100 calories, compared to less than 40 calories in flaxseed meal.  Processing the flaxseed meal into  the oil  also processes out  alot of valuable nutrients.  A scant tablespoon of flaxseed has about 2 grams of  of the  most desireable fiber, but the oil is fiber-free.  Processing  also removes the lignans, compounds that  have been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer and is believed one of the reasons that vegetarian women  have lower rates of cancer.  Flaxseed oil also strips  the seeds of  their  vitamin B1, protein and calcium payload.

And finally  flaxseed  oil has a very short shelf life.  Once you open a bottle of oil it becomes rancid very quickly.  It starts to smell like paint thinner, has a bitter taste and may actually cause a burning sensation on the tongue.  Refrigeration slows down  the process a bit, but you don’t want to add extra oil ( and calories)  to use it up before  it goes bad.  Flaxseed capsules, kept in the frig  may  avoid some of this problem, but I love the idea of  getting the health benefits of flaxseeds naturally in my food.

9 thoughts on “Flaxseed Oil or Flaxseed Meal– Which is Better?

  1. Flaxseed oil is a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (AHA). However, a study conducted in the United Kingdom found supplementing your diet with AHA may increase your eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels, but not your docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels.

    When men take ALA, their bodies convert the ALA to EPA at around 8%; the conversion of ALA to DHA was found to be even lower at less than 0.1%. Researchers found women’s bodies were able to convert ALA to DHA at a higher percentage of 9%.

    Scientists believe that estrogen in women may be the reason for the improved conversion in fatty acids; and this may be due to the demands of DHA for the fetus during pregnancy and breast feeding.

  2. My understanding is that our bodies cannot convert flaxseeds into the beneficial elements, and that flaxseed oil is the only way to get the benefits. I mix some into a smoothie everyday, at my doctor’s recommendation.

  3. Ahhh, putting it in shakes and smoothies is a good idea, i usually mix flaxseed oil sandwich spreads, and put it in my Kids spreads as well 😉 if you do it in a large jar its not so noticeable in the taste,

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