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.
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.