Linseed vs. Flaxseed: 101

This article will clarify the confusion surrounding linseed and flaxseed.  I will also discuss how and why you should add it to your dietary pattern.

Is Linseed the Same as Flaxseed?

Yes.

End of blog post. 

Just kidding. Unforunately, it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. Keep reading to learn more!

Linseed vs. Flaxseed

Linseed, also known as flaxseed, is a plant that has brown or golden seeds. The seed’s fiber is used for industrial processes, like making linen, or can be consumed as the superfood known as flax.

Is There a Difference Between Linseed and Flaxseed?

Basically, linseed and flaxseed are both sourced from the same plant.     

The difference lies in the way they are used.

Linseed is often used to produce furniture polish, paints, ink, or clothing. Whereas flaxseed is used as a food to be consumed by humans.  

As a reader, you will likely be looking to purchase flaxseed when following recipes or making meals.

Can I Use Linseed Instead of Flaxseed

Generally, all flaxseed is safe to consume, but not all linseed should be ingested.  If you purchase linseed, it should say on the label if it is safe to consume.  

Flaxseed is a Nutrition Powerhouse

Flax is a superfood and continues to grow in popularity. Its nutritional profile is rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and an antioxidant called ligan. Not only does it aid in heart health, but digestive health too.

Flaxseed is Rich in Fiber

Eating enough fiber is important for overall health.  The more fiber you eat, the lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and digestive conditions.

Flaxseed contains 20% soluble fibers and 9% insoluble fibers (1).  Eating enough soluble fiber can manage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.  Whereas insoluble fiber aids in satiety, constipation, and weight management.  A good source of soluble fiber is often difficult to find in our diet, which reinforces the importance of incorporating flaxseed into your daily routine.

Flaxseed is a Good Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids come in three main forms.  Alpha-linoneic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish whereas ALA are in plant foods, like flaxseed. 

Your body processes EPA and DHA more efficiently than ALA, so in order to increase your omega 3 fatty acid intake fatty fish consumption is often encouraged over plant sources. However, the ALA found in flaxseed has many health benefits.  Read on to learn more.

Flaxseed and Your Health

Inflammation

Oxidative stress, or inflammation, occurs with aging and exposure to environmental elements. It plays a large role in the development of many chronic diseases like cancer, plaque buildup in the arteries, stroke, and heart attack. Ideally, we want to remove this oxidative stress, or inflammation, with a healthy diet full of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Luckily flaxseed is a rich source of omega 3 and the antioxidant ligan.  It is also an economical choice that can fit into most individuals’ diet regimes.  

Blood Pressure

North Americans are not meeting their daily requirements for magnesium and potassium.  In the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) dietary pattern these nutrients play a vital role in lowering blood pressure. Guess what? Flaxseeds are a great source of potassium and magnesium!

Additionally, research has shown the ALA omega 3 fatty acid found in flaxseed is responsible for lowering blood pressure (1).  In fact, flaxseed is considered one of 39 foods that lower blood pressure.

Satiety

When eating fiber-rich foods, our body works hard to break down the food into energy.  While our body is digesting food, it is sending signals to our brain to tell us we are full.  Since fiber takes a while to digest, it aids in satiety, keeping us full longer.  That’s why high fiber diets can reduce caloric intake (1). 

Cholesterol

Fiber is also a binding agent which makes flax a great addition to vegan baking as it can replace eggs. It also acts as a binder in our bodies as flaxseeds are responsible to excrete fat and cholesterol in our bowel movements.  The soluble fiber found in flax is responsible for this action. Flaxseed is considered one of 39 foods that unclog arteries.

Constipation

Flaxseed is also a great source of insoluble fiber which helps add bulk to our stool and speeds up the transit of food in the digestive tract, often relieving constipation.

How Do I Eat Flaxseed?

Should I Grind Flaxseed?

Be sure to grind your flaxseed for your body to absorb the ALA omega 3 fatty acids.  Grind flaxseed in a coffee grinder, if you have one at home, or purchase ground flaxseed from the supermarket.   

Our bodies cannot digest whole flaxseeds. They simply pass through our digestive tract adding bulk to our stool.  This can help with constipation. However, if you are looking to reap the benefits of flaxseed for heart health, then gridding it will help the body absorb the omega 3 fatty acids.

Storage of Flaxseed

Flaxseed’s very high omega 3 fatty acid content can quickly cause it to become rancid through oxidation, thereby resulting in bitterness (2).

If you purchase ground flaxseed, it may go rancid faster than whole. So purchasing whole seeds and grinding as you go will allow for a longer shelf life.

Another solid option is storing ground flaxseed in the fridge or freezer to reduce the speed of deterioration and keep them fresh.   

How Do I Add Flaxseed To My Regular Routine

Linseed Oil vs. Flaxseed Oil

Since linseed oil and flaxseed oil are formed from the same plant, some think they are interchangeable. However, certain types of linseed oil should not be consumed as they may have dangerous side effects as it is typically manufactured for industrial purposes. Be sure to read the label on oil to make sure it can be consumed!

How else can you tell the difference between linseed oil and flaxseed oil? They are usually different colors, and linseed has a bitter taste.  Flaxseed oil is lighter in color and has a nutty profile.

Flaxseed Oil

When consuming flaxseed oil, it has a low smoke point, so do not heat it past 225 degrees Fahrenheit (3).  Instead try adding it to cooked food as a garnish, or use it as a salad dressing.

Final Thoughts

Adding flaxseed to your diet will aid in heart and digestive health.  It is currently one of the least expensive superfoods on the market for its rich nutritional profile.

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6 thoughts on “Linseed vs. Flaxseed: 101”

  1. whoah this blog is wonderful i really like reading your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You realize, a lot of people are hunting round for this info, you could help them greatly.

    1. Veronica Rouse, MAN, RD, CDE

      Thank you so much Rama! Let me know if you have any topics you would like to learn more about 🙂

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