Ok! Time to step on some toes. Maybe not yours, but certainly someone’s toes, especially someone who uses flaxseed oil. I know a lot of you take flaxseed oil because you’ve been told it’s good for you and that it’s a rich source of omega 3s. But there’s a lot about flaxseed oil you haven’t been told. And I’m going to tell you!
First of all, Flaxseed oil is not a good source of omega 3s. It contains only ALA, which is just one of the eight omega 3 family members. It’s the lowest omega 3 on the chain and despite the fact that marketers like to exploit its essential status, there are much better sources for ALA than flaxseed oil.
Presumable, flaxseed oil ALA can convert to the other omega 3 fatty acids. This may be true in a perfect world, but in the world we live in it’s next to impossible for your body to convert enough ALA into the other omega 3s to keep up with your body’s great demand for it. In this case, you’d be better off taking the preformed versions of omega 3s found in fish.
Companies who sell flaxseed oil are only riding on the research that proves fish oil omega 3 is a better choice. Most consumers don’t take the time to learn the difference, and this is how these companies get away with it – but not for long.
A new review of omega 3 studies found that, Evidence suggests that increased consumption of n-3 FAs from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not of alpha-linolenic acid [flaxseed oil], reduces the rates of all-cause mortality, cardiac and sudden death, and possibly stroke. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):5-17)
This should be no surprise for those of you who know the true name and nature of flaxseed oil. If you’re surprised, then it’s obvious that you didn’t know that flaxseed oil was traditionally called linseed oil for generations and it was used to thin paints, polish furniture and make linoleum flooring. As a matter of fact, flaxseed oil isn’t even considered edible oil for humans by the USDA.
If you want omega 3 benefits, then you should eat more cold water oily fish and supplement your diet with a reputable omega 3 supplement. (Sorry vegetarians! Looks like you’ll have to become a pescetarian.)