While fish oil is the most commonly recommended source for essential fatty acids in supplement form, there is an alternative for those looking to gain the benefits of these compounds – flaxseed oil.
Flaxseed oil (sometimes referred to as linseed oil) is produced from the pressed seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). The cold pressing is important, because it keeps the nutritional profile of the oil better intact.
This nutritious oil has anti-inflammatory benefits, especially in relation to inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis that cause swelling, and supports a healthy heart. Flaxseed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids, the good kind of fats that contribute to health. These fats include alpha linolenic acid, which is a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoisc acid (EPA), two essential omega-3 fatty acids for health. A diet rich in essential fatty acids also supports proper cognitive function and vision.
When shopping for flaxseed oil, be sure to look for one packaged in a dark bottle. This prevents any breakdown of the oil from light exposure. Store it in the fridge as heating flaxseed oil can make it go bad. Formulations of flaxseed oil are also available that have added lignans. Lignans are found within flax seeds and have antioxidant properties. However, lignans are normally lost during the processing of the oil. These lignans may have cancer-fighting properties, research suggests.
Flaxseed oil is easy to incorporate into the daily diet. Since this type of oil is sensitive to heat, its not meant to be used for cooking that involves heat, such as sautéing or frying. Instead, try using flaxseed oil as a base for cold sauces or salad dressings or add it to healthy drinks like protein shakes or green smoothies. It has a mild flavor that wont overpower a shake or drink.
Flaxseed oil can also be taken in supplement form, usually as a softgel, and can be found in a range of doses. As previously stated, flaxseed oil works as a substitute for vegans and vegetarians who dont want to get their omega-3s from fish oil products.
Women who are pregnant are advised not to take flaxseed oil as well as those who are breastfeeding. Anyone diagnosed with a bleeding disorder should also speak with their physician before consuming flaxseed oil, especially in supplement form.
The long-term benefits of essential fatty acids are simple to obtain by adding flaxseed oil to your daily meals or supplement routine. Its a small change that can have a big impact on your health.