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Flax Seed Oil Information


Benefits of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are important building blocks of our cell membranes, signaling pathways and neurological systems. They play a critical role in many functions in the body and are essential for good health. These health effects were noted at first by studying the Inuit Indians, which ate a diet of marine and fish wildlife and had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease are so well demonstrated that the American Heart Association has published statements since 1996 recommending increased fish intake and/or omega-3 supplements. Scientists and physicians have also discovered many other benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the research continues to grow!

Some of the Science related to Omega-3 Health Benefits

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are very important to our everyday life and function. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are critical in the structure of our cell membranes and the development of the nervous system and form the foundation for the synthesis of cell mediators (prostaglandins and leukotrienies). These cell mediators play an important role in human physiology and can affect coagulation, inflammation and proliferation of certain cells.

More specifically, omega-3 fatty acids:

The changing western diet has drastically changed the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio. In an effort to reduce cholesterol levels and lead healthier lifestyles, many Americans have substituted vegetable oils, which are high in omega-6 fatty acids, in place of saturated fat from animals. This change in diet has led to an enormous increase in omega-6 fatty acid consumption and has elevated the typical omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 2:1 to 25-50:1.

The dietary increase in omega-6 fatty acid ratio can have profound effects on an individual's health. This reason is that omega-6 fatty acids do not provide the health benefits that omega-3 fatty acids do. Although omega-6 fatty acids are an important part of the cell membrane, replacement of the phospholipids EPA and DHA (derivatives of omega-3 fatty acids) with arachidonic acid (derivative of omega-6 fatty acids) leads to a more thrombogenic state. Omega-3 fatty acids and their derivates reduce thrombogenisis by altering certain pathways leading to the production of less inflammatory mediators (prostaglandins, leukotrienes and thromboxanes).

Here are some highlights the general differences in health benefits between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

These differences have profound implications for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies and other chronic diseases. The scientific consensus is that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be less than 5:1.

Many people desire to supplement their omega-3 fatty acid intake with dietary supplements. These supplements generally contain flaxseed oil or fish oil. DHA is commercially available in its pure form.

Besides being the best source of omega 3's, flax seed oil is a good source of omega 6, or linoleic acid (LA). Sunflower, safflower, and sesame oil are greater sources of omega 6 fatty acids but they don't contain any omega-3 fatty acids. Flax oil is 45 to 60 percent the omega-3 fatty acid alphalinolenic acid (ALA).

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are available as triglycerides or ethyl esters. The preferred form of omega-3 fatty acids is triglycerides from fish oil. It is the most bioavailable form. Another positive about omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements is that most of the contaminants, such as harmful PCBs and metals, have been removed during the purification process. Recently, Harvard Medical School researchers studied commercially available omega-3 fish oil supplements and found that they have only "negligible amounts of mercury". Further, they state: "The additional benefit of fatty acids from fish oil is that large doses of Omega-3 fatty acids can be ingested easily in a capsule without the risk of toxicity."

It is important to note that you should always buy omega-3 nutritional supplements with antioxidants. Antioxidants keep your omega-3 supplements fresh and when combined with vitamin E and/or other antioxidants you will decrease or eliminate the incidences of "fish burps".

Uses of Flax Seed
Health Benefits of Flax Seed
Side Effects of Flax Seed