VRG received this question:
“In the 2007 first issue of the Vegetarian Journal you state that alpha linolenic acid in whole flaxseed can not be absorbed well. Can you please explain why.”
Thanks for your note. This is what the Canadian Flax Council has to say: See http://www.flaxcouncil.ca/english/index.jsp?p=faq
Which is better for me, whole or ground flax seed?
Ground flax seed provides more nutritional benefits than does whole seed. That’s because flax seeds are very hard, making them difficult to crack, even with careful chewing. Grinding flax seeds breaks them up, making them easier to digest when eaten. Then the body can profit from all that flax goodness.
If whole flax seeds remain unbroken, they may pass undigested through the body, reducing the nutritional advantage of eating flax seed in the first place.
So, based on this, I suggested using ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil.
Hope this helps.
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
The Vegetarian Resource Group