Ground Flaxseed vs Flaxseed Meal: What’s the Difference?
Flaxseed comes in different forms including ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal. They both offer many benefits which are why many of my health coaching clients want to learn more about them. Let’s answer a common question, what’s the difference between ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal?
Ground flaxseed is made from grinding whole flaxseeds. Flaxseed meal is made from the leftover flaxseed after its oil has been removed, it’s a by-product of producing flaxseed oil.
This article will take a closer look at the differences between the two including nutrients, health benefits, tastes, prices and if one can substitute for the other. In addition, I’ll examine whether if there’s a difference between the brown and gold varieties.
I’ve purchased, consumed and researched both of these prior to, during and sometimes after writing this article.
The Difference Between Ground Flaxseed and Flaxseed Meal
They are both made from whole flaxseeds. Many people use the two terms interchangeably. However, there are differences.
According to the Manitoba Milling Company and the flax council 1, when manufacturers make flaxseed oil, they press the seeds from the flax to extract the oil. The crushed flaxseeds are left behind as a byproduct.
The crushed flax seed is sold as flaxseed meal. It is a byproduct of the oil pressing process.
Ground flaxseeds are ground from whole flaxseeds, from flax plants, and contain all the nutrients and oil from the whole seed. It is recommended to use ground flaxseed rather than the whole because they are more easily digestible. Whole flaxseeds might be completely undigested due to their hard outer shell.
Ground Flaxseed vs Flaxseed Meal: Nutrients
The following are the nutrients provided by 2 tablespoons (14 grams).
|Nutrients||Ground Flaxseed (2 Tbsp)||Flaxseed Meal (2 Tbsp)|
|Fat||5.2 g||4.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||4.8 g||4.3 g|
|Protein||2.5 g||3.2 g|
|Calcium||32.2 mg||25.9 mg|
|Magnesium||52 mg||49 mg|
|Potassium||111 mg||121 mg|
|Fiber||3.2 g||3.2 g|
|Iron||0.8 g||1.0 g|
|Monounsaturated fat||0.83 g||0.99 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat||3.46 g||4.00 g|
The nutrients found in the table above indicate they are similar between the two. This often results in people wondering which one is better.
Ground flaxseeds are better than flaxseed meal due to containing all the nutritional benefits of flaxseeds. Flaxseed meal is a byproduct of flaxseed oil and doesn’t contain as much healthy fats stripped away when the flaxseed oil is removed.
I add ground flaxseed to my all day smoothie every time. It’s an easy way to gain its benefits. I just add a tablespoon directly into the pitcher.
There are different types and they have similar nutrient contents. However, they differ slightly.
There are two different types of ground flaxseeds and flaxseed meals, golden and brown. Nutritionally, the two are very similar, with only slight differences. However, the brown typically has a stronger flavor than the golden variety.
When it comes to the nutritional differences, the fats, carbohydrates and protein content between the two is almost the same. However, the golden color contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids and fewer monounsaturated fatty acids than brown.
However, the brown variety always has a higher concentration of antioxidants 4. The differences between the two types are almost nonexistent.
Therefore, choosing the right kind for you probably won’t have much to do with the health aspects and everything with the flavor.
How about organic, does it make a difference? Check out my article on the topic, Organic Flaxseed vs. Non-Organic Flaxseed: Which is Better?
If you’re like me, I won’t eat a food which I consider to have a bad taste. Therefore, let’s examine how the taste of both compares.
Ground flaxseeds and flaxseed meal have a similar mild, nutty and earthy flavor. The brown variety of both has a slightly stronger flavor than the golden type. The taste of either one is not overpowering and doesn’t change the flavor of other food much.
I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. Therefore, I reached out to some clients, members of food groups and readers. I asked, which one tastes better?
- 42% said they preferred the taste of ground.
- 40% said they preferred the taste of flax meal.
- 18% said they had no preference.
I conducted my own taste taste at home and ended up picking ground over the alternative.
In the taste poll and my own test, ground was found to taste better and was the winner.
I think it’s happened to all of us, at the last minute you find out you’re out of a food called for in a recipe. Unable to go out to the store or just don’t want to, you’ve probably wondered if you can use another one in its place.
Reasons why people will want to substitute one for the other in a recipe:
This makes people wonder is it okay to use one for the other.
Ground flaxseeds and flaxseed meal can substitute for each other in cold or hot recipes, baking, side dishes, smoothies or salads. Although expect a slightly stronger flavor when using the brown variety instead of golden. When substituting use equal amounts and the same cooking times called for in the recipe.
Healthy Living: Which to Choose
Some people may alternate between the two or choose one due to their particular healthy living goals. Let’s take a look at some of the popular goals.
Weight loss may be the most popular goal. If you’re trying to lose extra pounds from the midsection area, the number of calories may matter to you. Therefore, let’s examine which is better for weight loss.
- Ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal are similar for weight loss due to the similar amounts of calories and fiber. A two tablespoon serving of either one provides approximately 70 to 75 calories depending on the brand used.
Vegan or Vegetarian
If you’re thinking about following a vegan or vegetarian diet consuming dairy products or animal-derived products is important. Knowing which food is vegan or vegetarian friendly may help you choose between the two.
- Ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal do not contain animal products making them both beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.
Avoiding any gluten is the main goal for people who wish to follow a gluten free diet or have Celiac disease. Therefore, let’s answer which one is gluten free?
- Ground flaxseed and flaxseed meal are both naturally gluten free and good for gluten free diets.
Important: Although they are gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains in storage or during transportation. Always check the label of your products to determine if its gluten free.
It seems every trip to the supermarket results with more money spent at the checkout. For this reason and others, I’m sure the prices of food matters to most people.
I checked the price of organic brands for all the comparisons to keep things on an even playing field. I divided the price by the number of pounds. Therefore, let’s examine the prices of both.
Ground flaxseed average cost per pound is $5.88 and the average price for flaxseed meal is $5.99 per pound making both similar.
To conduct my own research, I checked supermarkets located in my area. Both supermarkets are on different levels of pricing. Walmart is the most economical and Shoprite being a little more expensive.
Here are my findings, I first visited Walmart on my shopping journey:
- Organic meal (Anthony’s brand) – 2.5 lb. bag $17.99 ($7.20 per pound)
- Organic ground flaxseeds (Herbal Secrets brand) – 2 lb. bag $14.95 ($7.47 per pound)
- Organic meal (Bob’s Red Mill brand) – 16 ounce bag $4.79 ($4.79 per pound)
- Organic ground flaxseeds (Arrowhead Mills brand) – 16 ounce bag $4.29 ($4.29 per pound)
Storing any food the correct way can improve shelf life. Improper storage may lessen the taste and quality. Let’s examine how both of these foods should be stored.
Ground flaxseeds and flaxseed meal should both be stored in an airtight container. The container should be kept in a cool, dark place away from heat or sunlight. Refrigeration is not required, but it will help the ground flaxseed last longer.
I store mine in its original container in a cool cabinet away from the typical kitchen heat.
I’ve used a coffee grinder to grind whole flaxseeds when ground wasn’t available for me to purchase.
There are many health benefits from both foods. Since they both contain many of the same nutrients and amounts, the benefits are similar. Ground and meal provide more benefits than flaxseeds do because our bodies digest more of the ground seed than the whole.
Let’s start with the one which they are mostly known for.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Why does omega-3 fatty acids matter so much? Both foods are rich in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, one of the two fatty acids that must be obtained from food because the body doesn’t produce them. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep arteries healthy.
The omega-3s may help with the following:
- Keeping bad cholesterol low.
- Keeping good cholesterol high.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Reducing plaque build-up.
- Lowering triglycerides
- Help keep the heart rhythms more normal.
A recent study showed an association between increased ALA and decreased cholesterol levels and a lower risk of ischemic heart disease 5.
DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 6.
Studies suggest omega-3s can help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. They may also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The following video explains the health benefits of flaxseed meal.
Fiber is helpful for many reasons 7.
Fiber is known for the following:
- Help digestion.
- Aids in controlling weight because it allows you to feel full faster resulting in consuming less food.
- Manage the blood glucose levels which helps decrease the risk of diabetes.
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
Both foods provide approximately 50 mg of magnesium per two tablespoon serving.
The magnesium provided helps the body control the following:
- Blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Muscle function
- Nerve function
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 8.
Many people supplement with magnesium in the evening because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
The following video about ground flaxseed benefits is from an accredited hospital.
Lignans are compounds found in plants, especially flaxseeds 9. They contain 75-800 times more lignans than other foods.
Lignans have been shown to help with the following:
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Menopausal diseases
- It reduces the risk of diabetes: Helps improve blood sugar.
- It helps prevent cardiovascular disease: It works to reduce plaque build-up and helps cholesterol levels.
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- Manitoba Milling Company: Whole-Milled Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Meal: There’s A Difference[↩]
- USDA: Flaxseed Meal[↩]
- USDA: Flaxseed, ground[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of brown and golden flaxseed on the lipid profile, glycemia, inflammatory biomarkers, blood pressure and body composition in overweight adolescents[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on ischemic heart disease and cardiometabolic risk factors: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Naturally Lignin-Rich Foods: A Dietary Tool for Health Promotion?[↩]