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Omega-3 and Flaxseed Oil Benefits
Flaxseed oil benefits weight in as numerous - from cancer prevention to heart health, flaxseed oil is critically important as part of an overall healthy diet.
So what's the hype about?
Flaxseed oil is a very rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat that the body can convert to EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
This is critical because EPA is the prominent omega-3 fat found in fish oils that is linked to prevention of heart disease, cancer and other protective properties, such as anti-inflammation.
(Photo compliments of David Wright under the Creative Commons License)
This is particularly important for the following reasons:
- If you are vegetarian or vegan, and do not want to consume fish oils; flaxseed oil is a great alternative.
- Even if you aren't vegetarian, you may not like the unpleasant fishy regurgitation associated with fish oil supplementation. Flaxseed oil is one way to get around it. Another helpful hint is to freeze your fish oil capsules and consume them frozen...by the time they thaw, they will be further along your digestive track and less likely to cause that fish burp!
- Depending on the source, many fish oils are now tainted with heavy metals due to the increasing pollution of our oceanic waters. One of the great flaxseed oil benefits is that it can be grown organically and is free of contaminants.
- As an important note, the typical North American diet consists of an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1, whereas the ideal diet should be a 4:1.5 ratio. Flaxseed oil benefits are largely due to the fact that flaxseed oil contains an ideal 3:1 ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids and therefore is able to normalize our diet very effectively.
Flaxseed Oil Benefits in Research:
Flaxseed oil benefits are growing in numbers and even doctors and health organizations are recognizing the potent benefits. Essentially, the research can be categorized into 4 main areas of research as follows:
- Anti-Inflammatory and Autoimmune Reactions
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids found in flaxseed oil help reduce inflammation that contribute to health problems such as asthma, arthritis, migraines, and osteoporosis.
- Omega 6 fatty acids on the other hand are known as pro-inflammatory rather than anti-inflammatory. So excess omega-6 in your diet (as is typical in most Western diets high in animal fats, margarines and vegetable oils) will actually cause or worsen these medical conditions.
Heart Disease and Blood Pressure Effects
- Dr. Joanna Budwig of Germany is a leading expert on essential fatty acid nutrition and has built an international reputation for treating cancer and other degenerative diseases with Flaxseed Oil.
- One major study published by Lockwood, et al reported that the combination of high dose antioxidants with essential fatty acids (including flaxseed oil) was able to halt the further progression of breast cancer in a group of 32 affected women.
Brain Function Effects
- Preliminary trials reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Human Hypertension show that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) supplementation causes both lowered cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Growing evidence is suggesting that healthy brain tissue (composed largely of fatty acids as nerve conduction and insulation) requires optimal omega-3 levels. We are starting to see psychiatric conditions, ADHD and depression linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
How much Flaxseed oil should I be consuming?
Flaxseed oil benefits are usually sited in the range of 1000 – 4000 mg per day.
There is no known toxicity associated with flaxseed oil supplementation, nor are there any contra-indications or drug interactions with its use.
Also of importance are the omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acid supplementation recommendations that suggest we consume 400 mg each of Flaxseed Oil, borage oil and a high quality fish oil.
One last thing: do not cook with flaxseed oil or you will 'kill' its nutrient value. Instead pour it on salads, rice dishes, soups or add it to your morning green smoothies.
Yours in Wellness,