Flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed offers more health benefits than whole flaxseeds since they are far easier to digest.
Whole flaxseeds are ground into flaxseed meals, which consumption of ground flaxseeds offers more health benefits since it is far easier to digest compared to whole seeds. The ground seeds increase the absorption of nutrients that are beneficial to the body, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
Gaining a certain amount of nutrients requires a small portion of a flaxseed meal, usually one tablespoon, whereas a person needs to consume a larger quantity of whole flaxseeds to get the same nutritional benefits since these nutrients often pass through the intestines undigested.
- These are chewed as whole seeds
- People may obtain fiber and lignans if consumed as seeds
- These seeds can be stored for 10 months at room temperature
Flaxseed meal or ground flaxseeds
- Whole seeds are ground into flaxseed meal
- Intake of flaxseed meal increases the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans
- Ground flaxseeds can be stored in the freezer and consumed for up to three months after opening
- Oil is extracted from flaxseeds
- This is rich in omega-3 fatty acids but fiber and lignans are lost in the process of oil extraction
- Flaxseed oil can be stored in a dark, dry, cool place or the refrigerator
Flaxseed meal and flaxseeds are virtually interchangeable. Sometimes, a flaxseed meal is a byproduct of flaxseed oil production. This is prepared after the flaxseed oil has been extracted. Such meals offer no health benefits, so learn about the source of flaxseed meals. Ground flaxseed is generated by crushing entire flaxseeds, which have a flour-like texture and provide the same nutritional benefits.
What are the benefits of flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are also called linseed and are rich in nutrients, fiber, proteins, fats, carbs and other essential micro and macronutrients. Flaxseeds are gluten-free, so they are a great substitute for a person who is gluten intolerant. Flaxseeds also contain lignans, which according to studies by Oregon State University, foods rich in lignans have been related to lower heart disease rates.
The compounds in flaxseeds, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), lignans, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber are believed to decrease inflammation, such as arthritis, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. It is also noted that lignans, a type of phytoestrogens, have been beneficial for the following:
- proper infant growth and development
- improved heart health
- reduced risk of cancers, especially hormone-related cancers (breast and prostate cancers)
- prevents constipation
There are two types of flaxseeds: golden and brown flaxseeds. Both have similar nutritional value, and the only difference is that brown flaxseeds have a more nutty flavor than golden flaxseeds. Golden flaxseeds are also believed to have more polyunsaturated fats and less monounsaturated fats than brown flaxseeds.
What are the side effects of flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds should be consumed in moderation because they can cause a few side effects, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Exacerbation of inflammation
- Imbalance of sex hormones
- Complications in pregnancy and lactation
- Gastrointestinal complications, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or bloating
- Intestinal obstruction
- Interference with other medications
- Changes in blood pressure
- Blood clotting disorders
- Flaxseeds may be poisonous if consumed raw or unripe
Flaxseed meal also contains phytic acid, linamarin and cyanogenic glycosides. These antinutrients may interfere with vitamin absorption if ingested in large amounts.
What is the safe amount for the consumption of flaxseeds?
The dietary reference intake states that the daily required amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid present in flaxseeds, for males should be 1.6 grams and for women should be 1.1 grams per day. To achieve these levels, one tablespoon of flaxseed is usually sufficient.
Flaxseeds can be used in recipes with other foods, seeds and meals, such as an ingredient mixed with cookies, pancakes or muffins and added as toppings on any food item, including yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies. You can also add flaxseed oil as dressings for salads.