You may have heard the terms "flaxseed" and "linseed" (or their corresponding oils) thrown around in TV commercials and health food stores. These two terms actually refer to the same plant, although each product has its own commercial uses and benefits, in addition to different preparations.
Flaxseed oil and linseed oil are pressed from the flax plant, which may have originated in Egypt. Ancient Egyptians used the flax plant for medicinal and nutritional purposes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The oil that results from the pressing of the seeds is referred to as flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is used as a nutritional supplement.
Linseed oil also comes from the flax plant, but has its uses in the production of products like paints, coatings, linoleum, according to North Dakota State University. In order to turn flaxseed oil into linseed oil, a petroleum solvent is used to further extract the liquid. Industrial linseed oil does not have nutritional uses, but the extracted oil may serve as an additive in animal feed.
Flaxseed oil offers omega-3 fatty acids, an essential enyzme commonly found in fish. Linseed oil can work as an ideal supplement for people who need omega-3s but do not enjoy or cannot afford fish. Omega-3 fatty acids promote a healthy immune system and can protect against cardiovascular disease, arthritis and cancer. Flaxseed oil may also promote healthy digestion. Linseed oil works as a powerful preservative with strong water resistance.
You can find flaxseed oil in certain vitamins and health supplements. The products may advertise "linseed oil" or "flaxseed oil," but the product is the same. You can also find pure flaxseed oil, not advertised as part of a larger supplement. If you purchase whole flaxseed at health food stores, you can grind it inside of a coffee maker and add it to your food. You can find linseed oil within the ingredients of products like sealants, paints and inks.
- North Dakota State University; Flaxseed as Functional Food for People...and as Feed for Other Animals; Jack Carter
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Flaxseed; Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D.; October 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Steven D. Ehrlich; N.M.D.; June 2009