Flaxseed: Whole vs. Ground

If you don't eat fish, flaxseeds are a wonderful source of omega-3s. They're also high in fiber, so many people take them regularly to prevent constipation. When perusing the aisles of your grocery store, you'll see they come in two forms — whole and ground. Is one more beneficial than the other? To find out read more

It may help to compare them nutritionally first, so check out the chart below.

1 tbsp. whole flaxseed 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
Calories 55 37
Total Fat (g) 4 3
Saturated Fat (g) 0 0
Carbs (g) 3 2
Fiber (g) 3 2
Protein (g) 2 1
Calcium (mg) 26.1 17.9
Iron (mg) .6 .4
Omega-3s (g) 2.3 1.6
Omega-6s (g) .6 .4

As you can see, they're pretty similar, but it's recommended to consume ground flaxseed because whole flaxseeds just pass right through the body undigested. Eating ground flaxseed allows your body to get the omegas as well as the phytochemicals called lignans, which may have antioxidant actions and may help protect against certain cancers. What about flaxseed oil, you ask? It also contains omegas and lignans, but no fiber, so I'd go for the ground flaxseed. Since the RDI of omega-3s is 1.1 grams a day, just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed is way more than enough.

Either buy ground flaxseed, or buy whole flaxseeds and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. Ground flaxseed can be stored in an airtight container for several months. Refrigerate any whole seeds you haven't ground to keep them fresher for longer.

Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, or salad. Or you can mix it in dips, or add it to baked good recipes. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a flour-like consistency, so you hardly taste it.