Flaxseed vs Flaxseed Oil – Flax Seed Uses

Flaxseed is the seed of the flax plant, grown throughout Canada and the northwestern United States. Flaxseed and its derivative flaxseed oil (also called linseed oil) are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a type of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Flaxseed is commonly used to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, subdue hot flashes, and as a laxative.

Flaxseed is available in whole, crushed, powder. Flaxseed oil is available in capsule or oil form.

As a source of fiber mucilage, flaxseed (not flaxseed oil) contains laxative properties. Flaxseed must be taken with plenty of water. Failure to do so can cause the fiber to swell and cause choking and bowel obstruction.

Flaxseed oil contains only the alpha-linolenic acid properties of flaxseed, and not the fiber properties. Flaxseed oil may include cholesterol lowering properties of flaxseed, but not the laxative properties.Therefore, if you wish to take flaxseed as a laxative, use whole, ground or powdered seeds and not flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil does not contain the health benefits of whole, or ground flaxseed.

Whole flaxseed (seed or ground) has a shelf life of up to one year. It is best refrigerated and should be used within a few months. Flaxseed oil must be refrigerated to keep it from going rancid. It should be used within a few weeks.