How do you choose between flax oil, seed, and capsules? Flax is a food, a super food actually, so let’s rule out taking flax in capsule or more accurately, softgel form, as being the best choice. We always want to try and get our nutritional requirements met from food first.
Flax Oil Softgels
The only benefit to a pill form, in our opinion, is if your doctor has given you specific instructions to take flax oil on a regular basis and you need capsules for convenience when traveling, or because you absolutely can’t stand the taste of flax oil or seed. Most serving sizes of encapsulated flax oil require you to swallow 4-12 pills to achieve a therapeutic dose of omega-3, and you will most likely run into additional unwanted ingredients like caramel color, gelatin and preservatives.
The main benefit of flax oil is that you will obtain the highest concentration of omega-3 per serving. The downside is, unless you buy a high-lignan flax oil, you are missing out on the antioxidant and fiber benefit flax has to offer.
The main benefits of the seed are the high fiber content per serving, and that the lignans are present. The seed also contains calcium and other minerals, as well as B vitamins. Omega-3 is found in the seed, but not at the concentration that you will get in the oil. If it is a high concentration of lignans that you are after, chia seeds are actually a better source, and you can also find supplements that extract and concentrate just the lignans into a capsule.
When purchasing flax seeds, make sure the seeds are ground, or preferably milled by a company that specializes in flax. Eaten whole, you will obtain very little of the benefits mentioned above. If you buy them whole, and grind them yourself, it is optimal to grind just what you need each time, limiting the exposure to oxygen which will degrade the nutrients over time. Avoid grinding them too fine, and limit their exposure to heat.
You can see that there are unique benefits to all forms. But in general, leave the capsules on the supplement store shelf, and instead of swallowing a handful of pills, buy a bottle of oil AND a container of seeds. Remember to follow our tip about buying from companies that specialize, this ensures the highest quality. Try and use either the oil, or the seed, or both everyday as part of a meal. For ideas on how to use them follow this post.
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