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Ask Tufts Experts September 2012 Issue

Q: Is there any difference in the nutritional value of golden flaxseeds versus brown flaxseeds?

Answer :  Both contain four grams of omega-3 fatty acids, primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), in a three-tablespoon serving. ALA, the form of omega-3s found in plants, has been touted for its health benefits. While the jury is still out on ALA’s own possible benefits, be aware that relatively little ALA converts into DHA and EPA, the omega-3s found in fish oil that have been shown to have positive cardiovascular effects.

Flaxseeds are also a good source of dietary fiber. Golden flaxseeds have nine grams in three tablespoons, while brown flaxseeds have only seven grams. The brown variety contains slightly more potassium and calcium, however, while golden flaxseeds have 160 calories per three tablespoons, compared to 140 for brown.

Overall, according to Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, these differences are minor and you could choose either variety if you’re looking to add flaxseeds to your diet.

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