Psyllium and flaxseeds can both be found in health food stores. Each product claims to provide different health benefits. Although they are both a source of fiber, their nutrition profile is quite different. When you understand the differences between psyllium and flaxseeds, you will be able to choose the best product for your health.
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Both flaxseeds and psyllium provide a great source of fiber. For example, 1 tbsp. of whole flaxseeds contains 3.0 g fiber while 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds provides 2.2 g fiber. The single serving of 1 tbsp. psyllium husks contains 3.0 g fiber. Most of the fiber in psyllium and flaxseeds is soluble, a type of fiber that has the ability to absorb water and form a gel-like substance that is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering benefit. Soluble fiber can help prevent constipation and alleviate diarrhea. Moreover, this type of fiber can help regulate your blood sugar levels after a meal, which can improve diabetes control
Psyllium does not contain fat and is therefore not a good source of omega-3. On the other hand, flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid which constitutes a type of omega-3 fatty acids found in vegetable foods. A tablespoon of whole flaxseeds contains 2.5 g ALA, while 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds provides 1.8 g ALA. The omega-3 fats found in flaxseeds can help protect your heart health.
A lignan is a phytoestrogen, or a plant-based compound to produce estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effect in the human body. Flaxseeds are the best source of lignans; psyllium contains none. Although more research is needed, it is hypothesized that lignans could be protective against hormone-associated cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers.
Psyllium has about half the calories of flaxseed. A tablespoon of psyllium contains 20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate and 3 g fiber. Because flaxseed also provides fat and protein, 1 tbsp. of whole flaxseeds contains 50 calories, 4.5 g fat, 2.2 g protein, 3.0 g carbohydrate and 3.0 g fiber, while 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds contain 36 calories, 3.3 g fat, 1.6 g protein, 2.3 g carbohydrate and 2.2 g fiber.
Psyllium is usually mixed with water. It is recommended to start with a small dose and to use about 1/2 tsp. to 2 tsp. of psyllium at a time. Flaxseeds should be consumed ground to allow your body to absorb the omega-3 fats they contain. Add ground flaxseeds to a smoothie, yogurt, cold or hot cereals, salad or even pasta. You can also use both psyllium or ground flaxseeds in recipes of muffins, granola bars, breads and meatballs.