In this earlier post, we talked about flaxseed meal in general and its many benefits on the keto diet. However, in this post, we’ll turn our focus to golden flaxseed meal, which everyone seems to be raving about lately.
Specifically, we’ll explain what golden flaxseed meal is, how it compares to brown flax, and why add it to your keto plan.
As you know, seeds are keto-friendly, and flax seeds are no exception. They’re one of few plant-based protein sources, micronutrients, fiber, and essential fats that you can safely enjoy on a low-carb lifestyle.
All seeds also have bioactive compounds that can benefit health in many other ways . Flax seeds, in particular, are rich in compounds called lignans that support cardiovascular and female health. They’re also uniquely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which most of us aren’t consuming as much as we should.
But there are subtle differences between the brown vs. golden flaxseed varieties that you need to know about and that we talk about in the lines below. So keep scrolling and find out what the fuss is all about.
Flaxseed: The Basics
Flax seeds come from flax, a flowering plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years as a food and fiber crop. The term “flaxseed” is mainly used when referring to it as human food, while the term “linseed” is used to describe flax products used in industry and as animal feed.
Other than for seed production, this ancient crop is used to make linseed oil, flax meal, flax flour, linen, and even paper. However, in the wellness sphere, you’ll probably see that the most significant focus is on flaxseed meal. But why is that?
One reason is its versatility as a culinary ingredient.
Flax meal is an egg replacer in vegan recipes, a thickener in keto recipes, and a substitute for flour in baked goods.
However, its popularity compared to whole flax seeds is more likely due to nutrition experts claiming that ground flax is easier to digest than whole seeds, which may pass through the digestive tract undigested .
As far as nutrition goes, a tablespoon of milled flax has 37 calories, 3g of fat, 1.3g of protein, and barely any net carbs . Milled seeds are also a good source of fiber at almost 2g in a tablespoon. You’ll also get a little bit of magnesium, thiamin, folate, and other B vitamins from ground flax.
But, and this is important, you will get most of these nutritional benefits from ground flax for the reasons mentioned earlier.
Golden Flax Seeds vs. Brown Flax Seeds
Flax seeds come in two varieties: brown and yellow/golden.
But despite what you may have read or heard, one isn’t better than the other from a nutrition and health standpoint. Both are nutritionally near-identical, at least according to research from the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory . For example, brown flax seeds have 59% omega-3 fats, while golden ones have 51%. It’s almost a tie, and the same holds for its other nutrients.
The only real difference is actually in taste and look. Brown flax seeds have a more robust, nuttier taste, while the flavor of golden flax seeds is often described as mild and buttery. Furthermore, the brown in brown flax seeds will be visible wherever you put them — in smoothies, brownies, pancakes, etc. Golden ones are less visible and blend perfectly into batters and cakes.
Another difference is availability and convenience.
Brown flax seeds are also easier to find in most grocery stores, either whole or milled. You’re more likely to find the golden variety, on the other hand, in health food stores and only as whole seeds. That means that you will probably have to grind them yourself to make a golden flaxseed meal.
Golden Flaxseed Meal Benefits
According to studies, besides being nutritionally similar to brown flax seeds, golden ones provide many of the same benefits as their cousin . Most of their health benefits come from three of their defining component: fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans.
So, let’s start with fiber. Like all seeds, flax seeds are a source of fiber. They’re particularly rich in dietary fiber, with just 2 tablespoon providing over 30% of the daily value .
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate with many health benefits. For example, it supports the cardiovascular system, gut health, and immunity . Fiber also helps food move through the digestive tract and absorbs excess cholesterol from the intestines. Additionally, fiber “feeds” healthy gut bacteria, which indirectly influences almost all aspects of health.
Second, flax is notable for being exceptionally rich in omega-3s. It’s one of few plant sources to have this fatty acid in amounts that could actually make a difference to your health. Around half of their total fat is omega-3 fatty acids, to be precise.
The type of omega-3 fat found in flax seeds is α-Linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor for the production of longer chain omega-3s found in the brain, eyes, and skin. There’s growing evidence that a balance of omega-6/omega-3 ratio is vital for health and that boosting our intake of omega-3s can help us with this .
And lastly, flax seeds contain lignans. These are found in many plant foods but seem to be especially abundant in flax seeds. They’re a precursor to phytoestrogens — compounds that can help protect female health .
Why Add Golden Flax to Your Keto Diet?
Well, for all the reasons we mentioned earlier.
As explained, flax seeds are very low in carbs — 2 tablespoon have less than a gram of digestible carbohydrates. This makes them not only safe to enjoy on a keto diet, but you also get a healthy boost of micronutrients and fiber.
Getting enough omega-3s is also problematic in our modern food environments, and that’s even true if you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Supplementing your diet with flax seeds can help you meet your daily needs for this essential fat and also help you balance out your omega-6/omega-3 ratio.
And when it comes to usefulness as a cooking ingredient, it can do wonders here as well. For example, you can use golden flaxseed meal in place of brown flax meal where a lighter color and milder aroma are suitable.
You can also use it to thicken smoothies, add moisture to baked goods, and replace flour in recipes. It’s especially an ideal ingredient in keto pancakes, keto muffins, and even keto crackers. But the options are endless! Once you get your hands on it, you’ll find a wide range of applications for it on keto.
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- Zeratsky K. Does ground flaxseed have more health benefits than whole flaxseed? Feb 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354
- Seeds, flaxseed. NutritionData. Accessed Aug 2020. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2
- Brown Flax Seeds, or Golden? Flax Council of Canada website. Jul 2001. https://flaxcouncil.ca/resources/nutrition/general-nutrition-information/brown-flax-seeds-or-golden/
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- Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(4):188-205. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x
- Simopoulos AP. An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients. 2016;8(3):128. Published 2016 Mar 2. doi:10.3390/nu8030128
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