Get the Goods on Flax Seed Oil & Omega3Charity Parkinson Cl.H., H.N.C.
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.
Conversion rates based on 1 tbs of flax seed oil and 7700 mg of ALA
For women of child-bearing age*
|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.
There’s more to gain from the ALA content of flax seed oil beyond EPA and DHA.
- Research studies done on athletes show that flaxseed oil has the ability to enhance the immune system in people dealing with physical or mental stress.
- A Canadian study showed that the ALA content in flax oil prevented breast tumour growth, which suggests a protective effect against this type of cancer.
- Flaxseed oil can reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood in as little as four weeks.
- Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health with the Flax Council of Canada has concluded that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system by reducing inflammation and by normalizing the heartbeat and blood pressure. Fitzpatrick also found that ALA and lignans from the flax seed itself may reduce the inflammation found in Parkinson’s disease and asthma by blocking the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents.
- Dr. Thomas Rau M.D. at the Paracelsus Klinik in Switzerland uses flax oil for constipation, leaky gut and inflammatory bowel diseases, and many people also report improvement with their hair, skin and nails by using this oil regularly.
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.
For more information:
*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.