Flaxseeds, sometimes called linseeds, are small, brown, tan or golden-colored seeds. In fact, linseed or “flax seed” are different names for the same seed. Flaxseeds are a great source of dietary fiber; minerals like manganese, thiamine and magnesium; and plant-based protein.
Flax is one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), in the world. (1) Another unique fact about flaxseeds is that they are the No. 1 source of lignans in the human diets; flaxseed contain about seven times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds.
Flaxseeds can be eaten as whole/unground seeds but are even more beneficial when sprouted and ground into flaxseed meal. Grinding flax helps you absorb both types of fiber it contains, along you to take advantage of even more of the benefits of flaxseed. (2a) Whole flaxseeds will pass right through your body without being digested, which means you will not receive many of the inherent benefits!
Additionally, flaxseeds are used to make flaxseed oil, which is easily digested and a concentrated source of healthy fats. Below you’ll find more about how to sprout and grind your own flaxseed, plus ideas for using all types of flax in recipes.
Another product of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) is linseed oil, which is boiled oil that’s used in oil-based paints, glazing putties (for windows) and as a wood grain protector/enhancer. Boiled linseed oil should never be taken internally. (2b)