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Q. Are store-bought pre-ground flaxseeds as nutritionally effective as buying whole seeds and grinding yourself?

A. “Probably not,” says Barry Swanson, Ph.D., a fellow at the Institute of Food Technologists and professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Washington State University. (We went straight to a food-tech pro for this answer.) While pre-ground flaxseeds offer similar amounts of protein, total fat, fiber, minerals and vitamins as those you buy whole and grind yourself, they likely contain lower levels of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), says Swanson. Pre-ground flaxseed has been exposed to oxygen longer; oxygen causes polyunsaturated fats to break down. (So do heat and light.) Tell-tale sign that this has occurred: an off smell and/or flavor you might call “rancid.”

To retain the polyunsaturated fatty acids, store your flaxseed—whole or ground—in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. If you do buy pre-ground, be sure your storage container is dark—and not made of metal, which contains minerals that contribute to fat breakdown. Best bet: Buy whole. Grind only what you need. Relish the freshness. (Note: Whole flaxseeds are very hard and will pass through your body undigested if you don’t grind them before sprinkling them on your cereal or salad. A coffee grinder or small food processor does a fabulous job of “freeing” the nutrients of your flax so that you can absorb them.)

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

I found this to be very helpful, however, I've been grinding my own for a while now. I wasn't aware of all the advantages in grinding them yourself oppossed to buying them pre-ground though. Thank you for getting this information out.

Anonymous

09/21/2010 - 6:03pm

Glad I found your website. I bought raw whole flaxseed because I didn't want the ground meal, but then it was like okay now what. Thank you so much for this valuable information.

Anonymous

01/09/2013 - 6:29pm

I live in the middle of nowhere and our local stores only carry the ground--very frustrating because I know the difference and feel bad for those that don't. I order my organic whole flax seed online and grind what I need as I need it.

Anonymous

02/25/2013 - 12:05pm

i read that flaxseed is beneficial for psoriasis. My sister claims it cured her psoriasis after a year of grinding flaxseed daily,

Anonymous

04/29/2013 - 8:03pm

I found this sight both helpful and informal,
Since I have added flaxseeds to my diet .
Thanks Juana Crawford

Anonymous

11/01/2013 - 6:32pm

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