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The Flaxseed Challenge:Which Type is Best?

By +Carolyn Richardson on Feb 15, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

Reaping the health benefits of flaxseeds is complicated, well kind of. Whether oil, ground, or milled, there is no right or wrong way to take it. Because there are so many options, you don’t have to limit how you use it in your diet. We compare the effects of different types of flaxseed to help you make an informed decision about consuming this low carb, high fiber, and healthy fat food.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid - ALA

Among the many health benefits credited to flaxseeds, the spotlight generally goes to its richness in Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which has an anti-inflammatory effect. A study investigating the absorption of ALA from whole flaxseed, milled flaxseed, and flaxseed oil found varying levels in the blood plasma of participants over a 3-month period. In the first month, both the milled flaxseed and flaxseed oil groups had significantly higher ALA levels, with flaxseed oil showing higher levels than milled. The whole flaxseed group did not show increased plasma levels of ALA. All groups reported gastrointestinal discomfort, but the milled flaxseed group fared best - none of the group’s participants withdrew as was the case with the whole seed and oil group. This small study seems to suggest that milled flaxseed may be best at delivering elevated ALA levels. A separate study says, “Presently, the weight of the evidence favors recommendations for modest dietary consumption of ALA (2 to 3 g per day) for the primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.”

Dietary Fiber from Flaxseed

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) puts an adequate intake (AI) of total fiber to between 25 and 35 grams of fiber per day. Because dietary fiber has been linked to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, getting more than the average American, just 14 grams per day, is a worthy endeavor. Flaxseed fiber is known to have different effects depending on if it’s in drink or bread form. A study in the February issue of Nutrition and Metabolism found no difference between sensations of fullness between subjects, but the study revealed flax fiber in drink form was more effective at lowering cholesterol than bread form, while flax fiber in bread increased fat excretion by a higher rate than the flax drink. The results of the study were based on a daily intake of 5g of fiber from flaxseeds.

Staying Full with Flaxseed: Pills vs. Drinks

Flaxseed has a large portion of viscous fibers, which are known to create a sensation of fullness. Another trial studying the satiating effects of flaxseed fiber found that fiber added into a drink was more satisfying than flaxseed pills. The study, which gave 2.5 grams of soluble fibers to a small group of men and women after an overnight fast found those who took the flax drink consumed approximately 300 calories less than the control group, while those who took flaxseed fiber pills had similar results. That said, both forms of flaxseed fiber were shown to suppress appetite and energy intake in subsequent meals.

Bottom Line: Go for It

Aside from initial gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas and bloating, adding flaxseed into your diet is safe. In addition to the studies mentioned above, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives flaxseed a “possible effective” rating for its ability to lower cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol, improve kidney function, and relieve mild menopausal symptoms. In addition to its known health benefits, the fiber and healthy fat flaxseeds add to your diet, without a significant amount of calories I might add, may be worth a try.

Your thoughts…

How do you take flaxseed and what changes have you experienced after adding it to your diet?


I sprinkle a serving of Barleans Forti-Flax on my hot or cold cereal in the morning.

I make muffins with it, use it in all kinds of baked things, great stuff :)

Put 2T in yogurt everyday. Gives it a nice bit of grainy taste. So so good

I use milled flax seed along with coconut flour in my low carb pizza dough recipe that I make. It's delicious AND good for you!

From the title, I thought it would tell me if there is a difference, healthwise, between the brown and golden variety of flaxseed.  I stick to the brown because I was told it was the original version and I figure as with most natural foods- the darker the better for you.  I still wonder if there's a diff...

ksylvan - Could you share your recipe? Smile Sounds like something I'd like to try.



I put about a tablespoon of milled flax seed on whole wheat bread with sugar-free jam every morning and I've noticed that it decreases my appetite.  I've been doing this for about two-years now.

I have never experienced any discomfort from using ground flax seeds. I put it on my oatmeal and use it in cooking as an egg substitute. ( 1 TB ground seed to 1/4 water equals 1 egg)  It's also very easy to sprinkle them on salads and in smoothies. 

I would love your flax and coconut flour pizza dough recipe!  Can you post it?

I just bought a package of seeds. It is tough eating it as is, so I milled it my which more pleasant on cereals. However I have no idea about the quantity I should take a day in tablespoon or teaspoon. I have read how good it is to ease the menopause symptoms and that's why I bought it . If anyone knows, please let me know. Thank you. 

Bing on a gluten free diet, I had trouble getting enough fibre until I started eating this

Gluten-free seed and nut flatbread

1.25 cups flax seed ground finely (I use my Magic Bullet)
0.5 c raw almonds ground finely
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
0.25 c sesame seeds (optional)

Mix together and stir in 1 cup of water. Spread thinly on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I find it helpful to cover with another sheet of parchment and roll out with a rolling pin. then remove the top parchment

Bake for 15 min at 400 degrees. Turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven while it cools.

Delicious with homemade apple butter, nut butters of all kinds or just eaten plain.

If you cut it into 16 portions each has 100 cal and 5 g of fibre


Ksylvan - i'd like to get a copy of you pizza dough recipe. Sounds like something I could use. Thanks.

heyha - that low carb pizza dough recipe sounds intersting - would you be willing to post the recipe or a link to it? thanks :)

Is your pizza dough gluten-free?


Will you share your pizza recipe?

Cereal, Salads.... everything I can think of. Cant even taste it. Love the health benefits!!


My 99 cents supermarket in arizona sells big packets of organic flaxseeds which I use a coffee grinder to grind to a powder and add to my home ground whole wheat when I make bread or cakes. Works well and costs way less. I also have cold pressed ground flaxseeds that i bought that i store in the freezer. i wonder which is better.


Hey HaHa: I'd like the pizza dough recipe too! Sounds like that is of interest to many of us.

ellen in oregon

Wow!!!  Thanks for that seed and nut recipe!!  YUM!!

I use flax seeds in my breads and salads.  I love them and the health benefits and never experience any negative reactions.  Thanks for the article!!


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I love flax seed too.  In fact, after eating it for a couple of months, I suddenly realized I no longer had much arthritis pain (I had not started using it for that.).  My doctor was skeptical, but I think it did help! I add 2 T. ground flax seed to my cold or hot cereal every day.  Put it beneath the rest of the cereal because if you put it on top it floats and is hard to corral!  Several web sites say ground flax seed should be refrigerated because it grows rancid easily, so I always do that.

I make a smoothie at least 3 times a week, and its so easy to throw in there, and you dont even know its there.   I freeze the ground flax seed in the freezer, but keep smaller jars in the refrigerator for daily use, to keep it fresh. 

If I only put it in pizza, I wouldnt eat it very often, though that does sound good!  I think the key for flax seeds is consistently, daily or several times a week. 

I put about a teaspon to a tablespoon of  milled flax into my hot cereal in the morning. I enjoy the nutty flavor it adds plus it has so many other benefits as listed above. 

I just made the seed and nut flatbread recipe too and eating it with homemade hummus from scratch. Yumm!

For those interested in a pizza crust recipe I found this link and it uses flax as well as coconut flour: za-crust/

Hi, with Parts of the Family from the spreewald Region just South of Berlin, i grew up with "Leinöl" bread with a bit of sugar or potatoes boiled in skin with fresh herbed quark and flaxseed oil. I absolutely love it and it has become my butter these days (no more Sugar needed;b). We have the golden kind here and yes it comes in rather small bottles as it gets rancid quicker than orher Kinds of oils once opened. It does appear to be an aquired taste though, as friends of mine who tried it after my recommendation but Never knew ist before could not quite grasp my enthusiasm bout the slight bitter-ish taste that so wonderfully accompanies orher savvy as well as Sweet notes. But this has always been consumed by my elders who made sure to get me used to it and even consider it a treat, who in turn all living physically and mentally fit to well close or past 100. So hardly too many studies needed here;b. I now also Love the fact that potatoes with Quark and Leinöl are a regular at my new Job's canteen. I would say keep trying it, and you will discover a new favorite:). g

sounds weird, but:

2 T ground flaxseed

1 cup organic  fat free milk

7 T dark cocoa powder

2 T agave nectar

drop or 2 vanilla or mint extract, or desired


Heat up as a fondue as eat with apple slices or another fruit.  A slightly less guilty chocolate fix.  The flaxseed stretches the chocolate and slows the sugar absorption.

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-- Kashi almonds and flax cereal over Greek style yoghurt with a handful of blueberries. Have this for a day or evening snack, as never been able to handle cereal breakfasts. Protein "leff'day'overs" are my breakfast staples. 

About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with gout. I began adding ground flaxseed to my oatmeal, yogurt, anything else reasonable (about a Tbs. per day) and have had no gout symptoms since!

I put a tablespoon in my Total or my oatmeal...better to buy ground flax in my opinion...

Original Post by: espirational

Ksylvan - i'd like to get a copy of you pizza dough recipe. Sounds like something I could use. Thanks.

Here is where I got this: .html

I use a 12 oz packet of cauliflower (from Trader Joes) microwaved and added to the mix instead of half the cheese.

What I do with the mix: Preheat oven to 350, spread the mix out (thin and all the way to the edge of the pizza pan) on parchment paper. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Then take it out and use the parchment paper to flip it, put it back in for another 20 minutes, then pull out the crust, top it with your choice of sauce and toppings, put back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Out comes a very nutrition-rich low-carb pizza!

I always use the oil in smoothies - my boyfriend won't touch the stuff though.  Except when he's not looking i put it in the smoothies and he drinks away quite happily :)

Wow, thanks!!  I have flax seed in the freezer and keep forgetting it is there as I didn't know how best to use it.  I like the idea of having it on whole wheat toast to help fill one up. When I get home from work at 11 pm, it is difficult to find something to satisfy me without too many calories, these are great.

I bye whole flax seeds and grind enough up for the week.  2 T. Go on my oatmeal every morning...with some fruit and skim milk keeps hunger away for about 4 hours


Once again, the flaxseed industry succeeds in deception by omission. Yes, flax has a long list of benefits. Yes, flax is high in Omega3, and the ALA is good for you. But... Don't be fooled. The really important parts of Omega3 are EPA and DHA, and humans over the age of about 17 lack the enzyme to extract these from flax seed/oil. Bottom line... Yes, flax is great, but you still need your fish oil.

I've recently started using ground flax seed in some interesting ways. I add 2 TBS to smoothies to make them more filling and healthier, or using it as an egg substitute when baking is great. Another great use for it is to coat fish in it and then cook it in olive oil. It takes care of my cravings for fried fish and is a much healthier version than the traditional flour or cracker crumbs.

I put 2 Tbsps of Uncle Bob's ground flaxseed in my morn. OJ everyday.

That sounds good so the flaxseeds are like breadcrumbs on the fish?

Here's an interesting site on fish oil vs. flax oil.  I plan to do more reading based on the comment by jgreen39.  Since I am a vegetarian, the fish oil is not an option.  While this site does agree with the gist of what jgreen39 says, it seems to be saying that with enough ALA the body can still produce EPA and DHA, even though at a diminished capacity as we age ml

A few years ago (2007) there was a concern that men who took flaxseed oil had an increased rate of prostate cancer.  So, as a man, to be on the safe side, I take whole or ground flaxseed and avoid the oil. ed-oil-cause-prostate-cancer.html zz1mV1kb98F


I have breast cancer and at first they thought flaxseed was harmful\

for "bc" because it contains phytoestrogens. Recent studies show that plant based phytoestrogens get to the cancer cells first and prevent the real hormone from

reaching the cell. Therefore-cancer levels go down! I am putting 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into my smoothies each day.

I add milled flax to whatever I am cooking.

Hi chesterthebear , i would love to read more about this, can you please tell where you got this information from?

I do wonder about whether the benefits of just sprinkling flax seeds on food, it's a pretty hard grain, does it even get digested? It seems to me it could be flushed down in the toilet (need to visually check?). Maybe it needs boiling or soaking. If you soak them overnight or cook them for a while, it will "jellify". I believe in natural medicine they advise to take flax seeds in this form to help with stools. Also this article recommends soaking: king_Nuts_and_Seeds

The flaxseed I use is milled - not whole seed


I used milled flaxseed and make it for breakfast like cereal;

1/4 cup milled flaxseed

1/2 cup water

1 packet slenda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

cook in microwave 2 minutes and when done stir in 2 Tbs peanut butter

serve with coconut milk unsweetened

this keeps me full and regular. hope this helps

Original Post by: catlivingston

I have breast cancer and at first they thought flaxseed was harmful\

for "bc" because it contains phytoestrogens. Recent studies show that plant based phytoestrogens get to the cancer cells first and prevent the real hormone from

reaching the cell. Therefore-cancer levels go down! I am putting 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into my smoothies each day.

God Bless you!!! You can beat this!!  Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge too.  You never know when each one of us might need this tip.

I am trying Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter with flaxseed oil.  Anyone have any info on this?  It says it has Omega-3, ALA - 320 mgs.  Had a gastrointestinal issue about 8 hrs. after trying.  Not sure what do do.  Any suggestions?

I am trying Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter with flaxseed oil.  Anyone have any info on this?  It says it has Omega-3, ALA - 320 mgs.  Had a gastrointestinal issue about 8 hrs. after trying.  Not sure what do do.  Any suggestions?

I am trying Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter with flaxseed oil.  Anyone have any info on this?  It says it has Omega-3, ALA - 320 mgs.  Had a gastrointestinal issue about 8 hrs. after trying.  Not sure what do do.  Any suggestions?

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