Are you looking for a healthy source of omega-3 oils without any drawbacks?
Flax seed oil and fish oil are the main natural sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
And Flax does have lots of it.
The question is, is it really a replacement for fish oil?
Omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. Improve mood and fight depression.
Studies are mixed about whether flax seed oil is useful for the same conditions.
It’s Got Omega 3s In It, Isn’t It The Same?
The conundrum begins with the fact that all omega-3 fats aren’t created equal. Flax contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Most medical studies that have been done are on EPA and DHA that are found in fish oil.
The ALA actually has to be converted in your body to EPA and DHA . Before you get the benefits.
When you look at the numbers. It contains 50 – 60% omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
That is actually more than what is found in almost all ordinary fish oils.
This is where the conversion problem comes in. Researchers at the University of Maryland have shown that people with schizophrenia have a very low percentage of conversion from ALA to the useful forms.
The EPA and DHA. To get the antidepressant benefits these patients had to take fish oil, which have the fatty acids in the ready-made form. Could it be that other medical conditions behave the same?
Drawbacks of Flax Seed Oil
- Spoils easily and must be refrigerated and kept in a dark sealed container. Avoid oils on the regular shelves or in clear containers
- Low conversion rates in the body to usable EPA and DHA, about 7 to 1
- Contains phyto estrogens
- People with medical conditions like schizophrenia have shown an inability to convert ALA into useful fatty acids
- ALA may be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer in men
Should You Buy Flax Seed Oil? Is It All Bad?
Of course not. But when we are talking about a source of omega 3 it doesn’t even come close to the real thing.
Our body has to do all the work to actually convert the ALA into a useful form. It’s a little like going to IKEA.
You see that lovely piece of furniture and think to yourself. Yes, that’s exactly what I want.
Then you head downstairs and collect it. What you get is a flat brown cardboard package, you then head home and spend the whole evening putting the pieces together.
Not to mention those mysterious left over bits.
If you want make sure you are gettting the full benefits reported in medical studies and and the news a good quality fish oil is the answer.
Photo by Alisha