Best Flax Seeds

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best flax seeds

Last Updated September 2019

Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are tiny-but-mighty golden or brown seeds that are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. Doctors recommend consuming flax seeds for a myriad of reasons, from lowering cholesterol to balancing hormones. They contain a high amount of fiber, plant-based protein, and antioxidants call lignans. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, flax seeds are an essential alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids and can even be used as an egg substitute in recipes.

Health benefits aside, flax seeds are as delicious as they are nutritious. They are commonly added to smoothies and sprinkled over cereal and salads, adding a rich, nutty flavor. As you can imagine, this popular superfood is offered by a multitude of brands.

Not all flaxseed is created equal, however, and we’re here to help you understand the difference between ground and whole seeds and other important considerations you’ll be faced with when buying a bag. Read on to find out all you need to know about these powerful little seeds.

The consumption of flax seeds date back 5,000 years to ancient Babylon. They came back into fashion as a health food in the 1990s, especially for their ability to fight heart disease.

Health benefits of flax seeds

Flax seeds are a popular health food for their rich source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These are different from the omega-3s found in fish oil that contain EPA or DHA. Flax seeds are also the biggest source of lignans in the human diet.

Flax seeds are also a great source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and they contain minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, manganese, and thiamine. Here’s how these properties may benefit your health.

Reduced risk of heart disease

ALA is considered a healthy fat. In studies, it has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and promote heart health in a myriad of ways. Like all omega-3s, the ALA contained in flaxseed is anti-inflammatory.

Supported digestion

Two tablespoons of flaxseed per day can cover 25% of your daily recommended fiber intake. It’ll also help maintain regular bowel movements and support colon detoxification. The fiber content and low carb content of the seeds can also help you feel fuller, promoting weight loss.

Improved skin, hair, and nails

The omega-3 ALA in flaxseed strengthens hair and make it shinier. Flaxseed also contains B vitamins, like B6, that can reduce dryness and flakiness for skin and nails as well. Taking two tablespoons of flaxseed a day may also relieve symptoms of acne, eczema, and rosacea.

Lowered cholesterol

One study has found that flax seeds help lower cholesterol by increasing the amount of fat you excrete. The soluble fiber in the seeds may also trap cholesterol, as well as fat, so that they pass unabsorbed through the digestive tract.

Improved estrogen balance

For women, the lignans in flaxseed act as phytoestrogens, which have the ability to increase or decrease estrogen levels depending on what your body needs. Menopausal women especially can benefit from flaxseed.

Reduced blood pressure

A study shows that flax seeds can help reduce blood pressure. The seeds must be ground and consumed for over 12 weeks for anti-hypertensive results.

Possible reduced risk of cancer

Preliminary studies suggest that flax seeds may help fight breast cancer as well as diabetes.

DID YOU KNOW?

Flax seeds also contain omega-6 (linoleic acid) but in a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 than other seeds.

Culinary uses for flax seeds

Flax seeds are not a health food you need to choke down to reap the benefits to your body. They are actually a yummy addition to almost any meal. They are used as egg substitutes in vegan baking recipes but also are added to non-vegan baked goods for their nutty crunch — all while being a nut-free and gluten-free! These little seeds are amenable to paleo and keto diets, too.

Ground or whole flax seeds can be added to smoothies to make them more filling. They can be sprinkled on top of cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt and mixed into granola. Try adding flaxseed to your salad for an added crunch, or use flaxseed oil in your salad dressing.

Considerations

Brown vs. golden seeds

Brown flax seeds are more commonly found on the shelves of grocery stores, but you can find golden flax seeds in health food stores. While both color varieties are nutritious, brown flax seeds have slightly more ALA than golden ones: 2.5 grams per tablespoon vs. 2.1 grams per tablespoon.

Whole vs. ground flax seeds

Flax seeds come either whole or ground. Ground seeds are also called “flaxseed meal.” To optimize health benefits, most nutrition experts recommend ground seeds, as the grinding process unlocks some healthy components. However, whole flax seeds can easily be ground at home with a coffee grinder.

Flax seeds are available pre-ground, which is sometimes called flaxseed meal or milled flaxseed.

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BestReviews

Features

Quantity

Flax seeds typically come in plastic bags, though a few brands carry them in plastic containers. They may be available to buy in bulk at health food stores, which is the most cost-effective way to purchase them. Bags typically come in 12-ounce, 16-ounce, 24-ounce, and 30-ounce quantities, or in 1-lb, 2-lb, 4-lb, or 6-lb bags.

Resealable bags

Some flax seeds come in resealable bags, which makes it easier for you to store them and prevent over-exposure to the air, which can spoil them. Ground flaxseed will turn rancid faster than whole seeds.

Milled

“Milled” is a word you might find on some labels; the process of milling is claimed to unlock more nutrition. However, it is important to note that milled flaxseed is the same as ground flaxseed. “Cold-milled” just means that the seeds were ground at a cool temperature so as to keep omega-3s and nutrients stable.

Organic and non-GMO

Whether you’re a health nut or just becoming health conscious, you may wish to purchase flaxseed that is labeled as organic and non-GMO. This will help you avoid ingesting unnecessary pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other potentially harmful chemicals.

Flaxseed prices

Low-priced, non-organic flaxseed ranges from $0.14/ounce to $0.28/ounce. This includes whole seeds and ground flaxseed.

Mid-priced flaxseed ranges from $0.31/ounce to $0.48/ounce. This includes organic flaxseed, both whole and ground.

Top-quality flaxseed ranges from $0.50/ounce to $0.93/ounce. These seeds are almost always organic. Some include blends with other super seeds or are of a “sprouted” variety.

EXPERT TIP

Grind your whole flax seeds right before consumption for optimal access to phytonutrients like fiber.


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Tips

  • If you grind whole flax seeds at home, it’s best consume them right away to reduce their exposure to air.

  • When adding flaxseed to a smoothie, use more milk — cow, nut, or coconut — than you’re used to, as the seeds will absorb some of the liquid.

  • Always store ground seeds in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from oxidizing and turning rancid and from losing its ALA and omega-3 properties. Store the seeds in an opaque, lidded container or sealable bag.

  • Store whole flax seeds in a cool, dry place in a closed container. Whole seeds can last up to a year longer than ground ones.

  • Drink more water or fluids when adding fiber sources, like flaxseed, to your diet.

  • If baking with flaxseed, choose recipes that don’t exceed a 300°F baking temperature to keep the omega-3s stable.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a low-cost organic flaxseed meal, check out Premium Gold Organic Ground Flax Seed. These golden seeds are cold-milled, optimizing their nutritional value with a barely there taste. Slip this nutrient-dense meal into recipes your kids will love. The resealable pouch is convenient and eliminates the mess and hassle of transfering the powder to another container. Golden organic flax seeds are hard to come by, and at this price, they’re a no-brainer purchase.

GERBS Raw Brown Flax Seed is an ideal flaxseed product for those sensitive to allergens. These seeds are processed on equipment free from gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, soy, egg, and more! This non-GMO product comes in a well-packaged, resealable bag and in big quantities. For consumers who prefer to grind their own seeds, these whole seeds are top quality and come at a good price.

Flax seeds are a good source of minerals and vitamins like thiamine (B1), copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and molybdenum, an essential trace mineral.

FAQ

Q. How much flaxseed should I consume a day for its touted health benefits?
A.
Most nutrition experts recommend one to three tablespoons per day. A tablespoon of flaxseed oil each day is sometimes recommended in addition or in lieu of this amount. Check with your healthcare professional when supplementing with flaxseed.

Q. Which are better for me: flax seeds or chia seeds?
A.
Chia seeds are another superfood that’s gained popularity in the health and wellness world. These tiny white or black seeds also contain a lot of fiber and ALA. However, flax seeds contain more of this omega-3, whereas chia seeds contain more fiber. Flax seeds stand alone in their high content of lignans. Chia seeds have similar mineral and vitamin content, but they contain more calcium than flaxseed.

Q. Are there any drawbacks or side effects to ingesting flax seeds?
A.
Because of their high fiber content, flax seeds can loosen the bowels to an undesirable degree. You might temporarily experience symptoms related to adding fiber to your diet like gas, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and decreased appetite. You should avoid taking flaxseed if you’re on blood thinners. Because of their phytoestrogens, it’s recommended to limit flaxseed intake if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The team that worked on this review
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    Ana
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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