Flax oil is obtained from flaxseeds, also known as linseeds. Flax oil supplements are very rich in the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); they contain over 50% ALA. Only chia and hemp seeds have a higher omega 3 content in a vegetarian form.
Omega 3 benefits play a crucial role in the functioning and health of many different parts of your body. These include, most notably, your brain and your heart. In fact, a significant portion of your brain and heart tissue is comprised of omega 3 fats. In addition, both omega 3 and omega 6 fats are found in the membranes of every cell in your body!
Omega 3 fatty acids, like those found in omega 3 flax oil supplements, are probably the most important fats for your health. A major reason for this is because they help suppress inflammation, a primary cause of many of the degenerative diseases so common today — heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, arthritis, and more.
Not all omega 3 fats are the same, and the type and source of your omega 3 can make a difference in the health benefits you'll get. There are many types of essential fatty acids; the ones most well-known are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); these are all categorized as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Skip to my page What are Essential Fatty Acids? to learn more about the different types of omega 3 fats.
Typical modern-day diets are usually low in omega 3 fats. Instead, we're consuming lots of omega 6 fats, largely through vegetable oils like corn and soy oil.
An imbalance of omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet leads to inflammation, which contributes to the onset of degenerative diseases. To get more omega 3's, you can add foods such as cold-water fish, flax, chia or hemp seed products to your diet, or use omega 3 supplements to get your daily requirement of these essential fatty acids.
Most of the research demonstrating the benefits of omega 3 fats has focused on animal-based DHA and EPA. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only in very small amounts (about 10 percent), and only when sufficient enzymes are present. This means that ALA is not a reliable source for the omega 3 fats that are known to be the most beneficial.
This does not mean that vegetarian omega 3 fats are not beneficial at all; they should be consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. However, relying exclusively on plant-based sources of omega 3s may not be sufficient.
The best vegetarian omega 3 foods include:
As noted above, current research indicates that these vegetarian sources of omega 3 are not as beneficial as fish high in omega 3, due to the inferior absorption rate. However, there are significant problems with toxic levels of mercury, dioxins and PCBs in almost all fish.
The safest and most effective way to get your omega 3 fats are omega 3 supplements such as fish oil or krill oil. These supplements are purified by molecular distillation to ensure that the product is free of mercury and other contaminants.
For information about other omega 3 supplements, skip to any of the following pages on this website:
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