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May 27, 2016
The flax plant, Linum usitatissimum, is probably one of the most controversial foods when it comes to the essential fatty acid discussion. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, here are four important facts about flax you need to know.
Flax seed oil is one of the richest sources on the planet of ALA (alpha linoleic acid), an
Omega 3 fatty acid, coming in at over 7 grams per tablespoon. Once we consume a serving of flax oil, the ALA content goes through a set of enzyme processes in our digestive tract to convert it into the more commonly known EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) fatty acids which are also found in fish oil.
According to the British Journal of Nutrition (2002), women in their fertile years are over 2 times better at ALA conversion than men, however both genders on average have the capacity to make ample amounts of EPA and DHA from flax seed oil.
|21% for EPA||1,617 mg of EPA|
|9% for DHA||693 mg of DHA|
|8% for EPA||616 mg of EPA|
|4% for DHA||308 mg of DHA|
Certain nutrients are required for the body to do this conversion, including B complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium. It’s important to note if you’re eating a lot of Omega 6 rich foods such as canola oil, soy oils, vegetable oils and processed foods, you may reduce your chances of turning ALA from Omega 3 into those healthy anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA fatty acids. So the healthier your diet is, the more that you’ll be able to benefit from these higher ALA conversion rates.
Flaxseed oil has much to contribute to a healthy diet and life, including essential Omega 3s. Your local health food store carries a variety of high-quality flaxseed oils. Look for one that is organic, cold pressed, sealed in an opaque bottle to protect it from light, and kept in the refrigerator to ensure the freshest and tastiest oil for you and your whole family to enjoy.
*British Journal of Nutrition. 2002 Oct; 88(4):411-20
**British Journal of Nutrition. 2002 Oct; 88:355-363
“Understanding Fats & Oils” Michael T. Murray N.D. and Jade Beutler R.R.T., R.C.P.