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It’s common to see crackers, breads and energy bars with whole flaxseeds. This is a perfect example of the food industry focusing on “health words”, in this case flax, rather than what is actually good for you.

Don’t take my word for it…

Does ground flaxseed have more health benefits than whole flaxseed?

from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. at the Mayo Clinic.

Most nutrition experts recommend ground flaxseed because your body is better able to digest it. Whole flaxseed may pass through your intestine undigested, which means you won’t get all the health benefits.

Flaxseed is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans. Flaxseed is commonly used as a laxative (to improve digestive health or relieve constipation). Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been used to help reduce total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels and, as a result, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Although flaxseed oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, it doesn’t have the beneficial fiber that the seeds have.

Final thought from Dr. Cohen: If you eat fish, I recommend an omega-3 fish oil supplement over flax because our body can use it more efficiently.