Flax, the plant called also Linum usitatissimum, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats necessary for the human body but not produced by it. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flax are called alpha-linolenic acid. Consuming flaxseed is believed to bring a number of health benefits, although some of these purported benefits have small proofs and need more clinical trials, as the National Institutes of Health state.
Flax seeds are found golden and brown. They can be consumed whole, ground or pressed into oil. They say, the nutrients of flax seeds are more beneficial and available to the body if flax seeds are ground. Flaxseed oil is derived from the flax seeds. Let’s compare flaxseeds vs. flaxseed oil to find out what is better for us - flaxseeds or flaxseed oil.
SEE ALSO: 5 Major Health Uses for Flaxseed Oil
Source of alpha-linolenic acid
Both flaxseed oil and flaxseeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This omega-3 fatty acid is converted by the human body into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body needs these fatty acids to fight inflammation, including arthritis, and support the healthy heart conditions. Theoretically, flaxseed oil combats inflammation as well, however, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, more clinical trials are needed to definitively prove that flaxseed oil has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Potential health benefits of flaxseeds vs. flaxseed oil
If we compare the nutrition data of flaxseeds vs flaxseed oil, we can see that flaxseeds contain fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron that are absent in flaxseed oil. In comparison with flaxseed oil, flaxseeds are rich in lignans and fiber. During the process of deriving the oil from the seeds lignans are removed.
Lignans, as Wikipedia states, are phytoestrogens and antioxidants. Being phytoestrogens they act like the female hormone estrogen and can help women with their problems: menopause symptoms and polycystic ovary syndrome. Due to their properties lignans can help prevent breast cancers connected with over-production of estrogen. Lignans link to estrogen receptors and take the estrogens role, but their effect is much less than real estrogens have.
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The fiber in flaxseeds may also aid in reduction of bad cholesterol levels. Fiber may help diabetes-prone people lessen constipation and control stable blood sugar. The fiber in flaxseeds attracts water which makes it effective in promoting peristalsis; it increases the stool and facilitates it from the body.
Reducing intestine inflammation
Flaxseed oil may lessen inflammation within the intestinal lining. Flaxseeds have not been connected with this benefit. Flaxseed oil helps treat irritable bowel disease. This disease includes several gastrointestinal problems, including Crohn’s disease and colitis.
We also can compare the usage of flaxseeds vs. flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil has a low smoke point and it cannot be heated and used for cooking. It is only added to salad dressings, smoothies, and drinks or already made dishes. Ground flaxseeds are more stable to heat, so it is possible to add them to soups, hot drinks and used for low heat cooking.
Whatever you choose flaxseeds or flaxseed oil as a nutritional supplement always keep them in refrigerator.