Does ground flaxseed color matter?

The benefits of ground flaxseeds are numerous. They are a good source of protein, boosting the overall amino acid pool available for tissue synthesis and repair. They contain vitamins and trace minerals. Their high lignan content (not to be confused with lignin, an indigestible fiber) gives your horse antioxidant protection against disease. And most of all, their plentiful omega 3 fatty acid content promotes health by reducing inflammation, lowering insulin, balancing immune response, and feeding hooves, skin, and hair.

Flaxseeds come in two basic varieties—golden or brown. Is one better than another? The Canadian Grain Commission did a recent study comparing the two and found them to be very similar. The alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) content of brown flax seeds was 59 percent compared to 51 percent for the golden seeds. Producers of ground flaxseed products also show them to be virtually equal in their omega 3 content.

Bottom line: Either form is nutritious and worthwhile. It is best to feed a product that adds a small amount of calcium to correct for the naturally high levels of phosphorus found in flaxseeds. Be sure to grind them daily, or purchase a stabilized product from a reputable provider.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is the contributing nutrition editor for the Horse Journal, and is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.