Flaxseeds are incredibly healthy little seeds that offer numerous health benefits. Most flaxseeds in the US are imported from Canada, the world’s number one flax exporter 1. According to the Flax Council of Canada, organic and non-organic flaxseeds may not be as different as you think. This may steer you to examine which is better, organic flaxseed vs. non-organic?
Organic flaxseed is better than non-organic because of the lack of pesticides and harmful chemicals. While organic flaxseeds are the safer of the two, non-organic flaxseeds represent an excellent alternative because they’re affordable and nutritious.
This article will delve into what flaxseeds are and the differences between organic and regular. In addition, I’ll inform you of three medical conditions, which if you possess one of, flaxseed may not remain a choice for you.
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What Are Flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are golden to reddish colored seeds that come from the flax plant. They have been eaten or used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Today, flaxseeds are considered to be a “superfood” because of their incredible health benefits 2. Research has found that consuming these little seeds may help lower the risk that you will get certain health conditions 3.
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What Does “Organic” Mean?
In Canada, some companies grow organic flax and label their products with the “organic” symbol. For flax to be considered organic in Canada, the producers must keep chemicals away from the crops throughout the entire growing and harvesting process 4.
Producers need to have records that prove that their crops were grown organically. These records also need to trace the whereabouts of the crops, so the buyer will know everywhere the crop has been since it was harvested 4.
Flaxseeds are also grown in the United States where similar regulations are followed in regards to pesticides and chemicals. Organic regulations are similar with other foods like in my blog post about organic bananas vs. regular ones. You may want to check out that one by clicking here, Organic Bananas vs. Regular Bananas: Which is Better?
Should I Buy Organic Flaxseeds?
Organic flaxseeds in Canada go through more stringent tests than non-organic flaxseeds, so if you do buy organic, you’ll know that you are getting a safe product that hasn’t been tainted by pesticides or herbicides.
However, organic flaxseeds also cost more than non-organic ones 4. So, if you are on a budget, you may want to consider buying non-organic flax.
Since Canada puts all of its flax through stringent testing, deciding whether or not to buy organic is really up to you.
Are Non-Organic Flaxseeds Safe?
Canada is the greatest exporter of flax in the world 5. Therefore, most of the flaxseeds available in the United States are imported from Canada.
A nationally recognized organization called the Flax Council of Canada took a closer look at organic and non-organic flaxseeds to determine if there are any advantages of buying organic. According to their website, organic flax and non-organic flaxseeds are pretty similar as long as they come from a reputable supplier.
Flax in Canada has to pass several tests and meet a number of health standards before it can be exported. Reputable suppliers make sure that their flax meets these qualifications before selling.
The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) tests flaxseed quality and ensures that only high-quality grains are exported 6. During these tests, members of the CGC check for contaminants or any unusual substances that may be harmful to human health. To do this, they bring grain samples back to their labs and conduct tests to make sure that no harmful chemicals remain. The CGC makes sure that every export meets the suppliers’ and consumers’ standards.
Additionally, Flax has to meet Health Canada’s standards before it can be exported 7. Health Canada only allows for safe food products to enter the market. It is Health Canada’s job to determine that all food is completely safe for consumption.
So, as long as non-organic flax comes from a reputable supplier, it is likely safe for consumption.
Health Benefits of Organic & Non-Organic Flaxseeds
Listed below are three health benefits you’ll receive from eating both kinds of flaxseeds.
High in ALA
Flax seeds contain an omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is a type of fatty acid that can only be obtained through your diet.
The benefits of ALA are well known. A study found that individuals who consumed more ALA were less likely to get heart attacks 8. Additional research discovered that people with more ALA had a 14% lower chance of developing heart disease 9.
Having more ALA in your body may also prevent you from having strokes.
Flaxseeds contain plant-based nutrients called lignans. Lignans have properties similar to antioxidants and estrogen.
At first, researchers were concerned that lignans’ estrogen-like properties might increase breast cancer risk.
However, a study conducted in 2013 discovered that women who ate flaxseeds had lower breast cancer rates than those who did not, especially among postmenopausal women 10. Similarly, a study found that women who ate flaxseeds were less likely to develop breast cancer than non-consumers 11.
The lignans in both organic and non-organic flaxseeds may also fight against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. Lignans can stop tumors from forming new blood vessels, which prevents them from getting larger.
Flaxseeds provide you with 800 times more lignans than most other plant-based foods 12. So if you want to eat food that fights cancer, flaxseeds are the way to go.
Flaxseeds also help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
One study of high cholesterol people found that eating three tablespoons of flaxseed powder a day reduced LDL cholesterol by 20% 13. Another study found that consuming just one tablespoon of flaxseed powder per day was able to increase individuals with diabetes “good” cholesterol by 12% 14.
Flaxseeds contain phytosterols, which also have cholesterol-fighting effects. Phytosterols are compounds found in plant cell membranes that can stop the body from absorbing bad LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing your overall cholesterol levels 15.
Lower Blood Pressure
The antioxidants and many nutrients are beneficial for lowering high blood pressure. Blood Pressure explained has flaxseed listed as one of 30 supplements backed by science to lower blood pressure 16. In addition, in a study where people consumed flaxseed for six months, both systolic and diastolic pressure were reduced significantly 17.
So, eating flaxseeds is the way to go if you want to improve your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
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Do Organic or Non- Organic Flaxseeds Have Health Risks?
Flaxseeds may be unsafe for individuals with certain health conditions.
- During pregnancy, eating flaxseeds may be unsafe 18. The lignans found in flaxseeds have a similar effect as estrogen, which may negatively affect pregnant individuals. While the exact effects of flaxseeds on pregnant women is still inconclusive, it is simply safer to avoid them.
- Individuals with bleeding disorders should avoid flaxseeds. Flaxseeds have been found to slow blood clotting, leading to excessive bleeding in individuals with bleeding disorders 19. You should also avoid non-organic and organic flaxseeds if you are taking blood thinners (such as warfarin or aspirin) for the same reason.
- If you have diabetes, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels while using flaxseeds 20. Flaxseeds have been found to lower blood sugar levels. When combined with diabetes medications, flaxseeds may cause blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low.
Flaxseeds provide numerous health benefits, including:
- High in ALA which has a protective effect against heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes
- Contain lignans that have cancer-fighting properties
- Decreases the levels of bad cholesterol found in the body
If you are pregnant, have a bleeding disorder, or are diabetic, talk to your doctor before consuming flaxseeds.
Most of the flaxseeds in the US are imported from Canada. Canada puts its organic and non-organic flax through rigorous testing to make sure it is safe for consumption.
Organic flax in Canada is grown without any pesticides or herbicides, making it especially safe. But it is also more expensive.
So, while both organic and non-organic flaxseeds should be safe, you may want to buy organic to avoid any potential pesticide residue. Although, organic flaxseeds may seem much more expensive than the non-organic flaxseeds. You should still always consider choosing the best option for you.
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- Tridge.com: Top exporting Countries of Flax seed
- USDA: The benefits of flaxseed
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health
- Flax Council of Canada: Organic, or Not?
- Flax Council of Canada: Canada – A Flax Leader
- Canadian Grain Commission: Grain harvest and export quality
- Government of Canada: Health Canada
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Alpha-linolenic acid and risk of nonfatal acute myocardial infarction
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: a-linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Springer Link: Consumption of flaxseed, a rich source of lignans, is associated with reduced breast cancer risk
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of Flaxseed in Breast cancer: A literature Review
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Flaxseed-a potential functional food source
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Evaluation of flaxseed formulation as a potential therapeutic agent in mitigation of dyslipidemia
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: An open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus
- Cleveland Clinic: Boost Your Cholesterol-Lowering Potential With Phytosterols
- Blood Pressure Explained: 30 Supplements To Lower Your Blood Pressure Proven To Work
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients
- ScienceDaily: Pregnant Women Consuming Flaxseed Oil have High Risk Of Premature Birth
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Flaxseed and cardiovascular health
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Flaxseed and Diabetes