I never really thought about an argument between which is best, or which should be avoided for that matter, on the subject of ground flax seeds vs flax seed oil.
In a recent viewing of the video Food Matters (www.foodmatters.tv), one of the guests caught our attention. We visited her website dedictated the the reversal of disease through nutrition in which we found an interesting article about flax oil. She advises to avoid flax seeds and only use the oil for reasons suggested below.
We use flax seeds in a bunch of our recipes, but her information should be given a rethink to the issue.
Jeff Novick from JeffNovick.com recommends flax seed for it’s oil and it’s fiber:
In the last issue of Healthy Times, we identified the most beneficial foods for longevity. Raw, ground flaxseed ranks among the very best of these. Flaxseed has become very popular with researchers because they are rich in lignans (a type of fiber) and omega 3 essential fatty acid, also known as alpha linoleic acid (ALA), both of which are so important for health.
Recent scientific studies have confirmed that flaxseed can have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels to constipation to cancer and heart disease.
Here are some of the documented benefits of eating flaxseed.
- Relief from constipation: Eating 50 grams of flaxseed per day helped increase the frequency of bowel movements.
- Lowered risk of heart disease: Women and men who ate 50 grams of ground flaxseed daily averaged a 9 percent drop in total cholesterol levels, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) decreased 18 percent, and serum lipids (fat in the blood) were 11-16 percent lower.
- Lowered risk of cancer: Population studies of diet and disease risk suggest an anti-cancer role for flaxseed in both prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Keep in mind that these benefits come from raw, ground flaxseed, not flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients found in ground flaxseed. Flaxseed is an important source of omega 3 fatty acids and other important nutrients that are a valuable addition to a healthful diet.
In a FAQ about flax seed and flax seed oil from the Gerson Institute, they seem to be quite clear as to why to only use flax seed oil:
First of all, all seeds including flaxseeds have an important substance within them that keeps them, well, seeds. That substance is an enzyme inhibitor. Gerson patients particularly are working to promote vital enzyme absorption for healing purposes. Second, flaxseed oil is rich in the amino acid: lysine, also valuable for healing. Ground flaxseeds on the other hand are rich in arginine (a nonessential amino acid except during infancy when it is “essential”). Arginine can depress the immune system response, a this works directly against the goal of the Gerson Therapy. Third, flaxseed oil is a valuable carrier of Vitamin A from the carrots and other vegetables, and in the reabsorbing of tumor masses. Fourth, Flaxseed oil is a rich source of linoleic acids and unsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) essential in nutrition when used in proper amounts. (The long answer – by Charlotte Gerson) We are frequently asked why patients should not use flax seeds when they are supposed to use flax seed oil. There are a number of reasons. Flax seeds, like all seeds and legumes, are nature’s way to preserve life for the next generation. In order for those seeds not to sprout when conditions are not right, for instance, on a hard floor or table, or in a sack with many more seeds, nature endows them with an enzyme inhibitor. This preserves the seeds in a ‘dormant’ condition until they are in a warm, moist soil. This enzyme inhibitor, however, also inhibits human digestive enzymes. Therefore seeds and legumes interfere with good digestion. Patients already have enough digestive problems; we must not add to those, since these inhibitors tend to cause gas. That is why sailors are said to have gas since they eat a lot of beans. A second point is that the flax seed oil is important to carry vitamin “A” to all the cells of the body, thus activating the immune system. However, Vitamin “A” is fat soluble and works better with the flax seed oil as a carrier. In order to obtain an adequate quantity of oil from the seeds, a huge quantity would need to be consumed, along with the enzyme inhibitors. Another reason for not using the flax seeds is that all nuts and seeds, while they are fairly rich in proteins, contain proteins that are not in good balance. These seed proteins are usually high in l-arginine (one of the amino acids) and low in l-lysine (another amino acid). That is not acceptable, this ratio should be reversed, since l-lysine stimulates the immune system while the high l-arginine depresses the immune system. It is very important to obtain the right amount of flax seed oil. Rather than the seeds, the oil contains adequate amounts of the invaluable linolenic and linoleic acids. These help to dissolve and carry off cholesterol plaque that has formed in the arteries of virtually all people. Thus, circulation improves and plaque clears, also preventing possible heart attacks and/or strokes. Some people consider flax seed oil unpalatable. It is actually very tasty and can be used as part of the salad dressing (with vinegar or lemons) or as a dressing for baked potatoes – after these have cooled down from excessive heat. Never cook or bake with flax seed oil!
and in conclusion, another article by Jeff Novick has the very opposite view. He answers this question:
Are flaxseed oil and flaxseed oil supplements as good as ground flaxseed?
No. I do not recommend the use of flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil supplements. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients (except for vitamin E) found in ground flaxseed. Also, flaxseed oil is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and there is evidence that extracted PUFA oils may suppress the immune system, and possibly increase the growth rate of certain cancers and/or tumors. If you want the benefit of flaxseed, eat the ground seeds and avoid the oil.
So which is the correct answer? dunno.
Should you avoid one or the other, or eat both? another good question. I use each in one form or the other, some for baking and in recipes, the other in my Udo’s Oil as part of a complete EFA solution. I use each form of flax seeds for their various benefits. In one form for the fiber and in another form for the improvement to immune system functioning. How you choose to proceed is up to you I guess.