If you are considering taking either flaxseed as a seed, capsule or the oil version, then I think it is important to fully understand the nutritional value of these products.
The most popular, and easiest to find form of seed, is the brown seed, but many people prefer the golden seed variety. It contains four important elements which are:
Some people prefer to take the oil rather than the seeded variety. Around 42% of an actual seed is made up of oil, and this is extracted by crushing the seed. It really comes down to personal choice as to whether you take the ground seeds, or take the oil.
Flaxseed also contains soluble fibre which is known to help lower cholesterol levels. It also contains insoluble fibres which helps move stools through the colon faster and as such helps bowel movements and reduces the risk of constipation.
Finally we have lignans which according to various laboratory tests can help reduce the risk of various cancers. So powerful are these lignans that flaxseed is known to contain 800 times more lignans than all other foods, especially in a vegetarian diet.
The Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)is what helps get the benefits of the flaxseeds into our body as an essential fatty acid.
Seed or Oil for Nutrition?
It is fair to state that by taking either, you will certainly enjoy health benefits. I prefer the oil myself in capsule form because it is just simple and easy to take.
Nutritional Value of Oil
One tablespoon of oil weighing 14g will give you 124 kcal of energy, 14g of body fat and 8g of ALA
Nutritional Value of Whole Seed
One tablespoon weighing 11g will give you 50 kcal of energy, 4.5g of body fat and 2.5g of ALA, 2.2g of protein, and 3g of fibre
Nutritional Value of Ground Seed
One tablespoon weighing 8g will give you 36 kcal of energy, 3.3g of body fat and 1.8g of ALA, 1.6g of protein, and 2.2g of fibre
So as you can see there is not a huge difference other than that the seed will give you protein and fibre, whereas the oil does not have these, but does offer increased energy.
The main purpose of taking some form of flaxseed is that it is really all about balancing the diet. Remember these seeds and the oil they produce all help with reducing the amount of fat in our bodies, lower cholesterol and as such will decrease the risks of heart disease.
We have already discussed that lignans can help prevent cancers simply because your diet is improved. No one is saying that flaxseed oil will cure cancer but as cancer is closely linked to diet, then this oil certainly improves the diet.
It is worth noting that flaxseed came to prominence initially as the ALA and lignans helped reduce inflammation. That of course impacts a lot on the body's immune system. Overall flax seeds are high in nutritional levels.
We can hopefully now see and understand better the nutritional elements of flaxseed. We can also be fairly certain that based on these values, there are substantial overall health benefits to be had in taking a regular daily does of some variant of flax.