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Flax Seed Oil and Their Benefits

Fresh flax seed oil has a pleasing, light, nutty flavor and contains a nutritionally unique composition of essential fatty acids (EFA's).  They are essential because they cannot be synthesized by the human body.  Barleans-flax-oil

Flax seed oil contains both linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, omega 1 and omega 3 oils.  These oils promote a non-inflammatory pathway in the body and are considered the "good" fats.  They help to lower cholesterol and keep blood clots from forming in the arteries, reducing the chance of heart disease.  These oils also reduce joint inflammation and are useful in arthritis.  They improve the immune response, decrease prostaglandin levels aiding in the prevention of breast cancer and menstrual cramps, improves dermatological conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and may even reduce the severity of migraine headaches. 

The best way to use flax seed oil is in cold dishes because too much heat destroys the healthful properties of this oil. 

Essential fatty acids increase metabolic rate, therefore, flax seed oil is less likely than any other oil to result in weight gain.  In fact, studies have shown that many overweight people actually lose weight by adding fresh essential fatty acid-rich oil to their diet. 

Some suggestions for using the oil:

  • On cooked or steamed vegetables, instead of butter.
  • On baked potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • In shakes or smoothies
  • In homemade salad dressing

I like Barlean's Flax Seed Oil, but any quality brand will do. You can find it in the health section of a grocery store or a health food store for approximately $10 per 16oz bottle.

Do you have a favorite way of using flax seed oil? Let us know!




Healthy Oil Guy

Yes, flaxseed oil is a great plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. I also like to use pharmaceutical-grade fish oils to get a higher dose of the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

However, there is some limiting factors to how much your body converts the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed oil into EPA or DHA...especially if you're a man or woman.

Scientists in the UK discovered that increasing your intake of ALA over a period of weeks to months will increase your EPA levels,but there was no increase in DHA.

Using radioisotopes, scientists found the conversion of ALA to EPA in men was 8%. And to make matters worse, it turns out the conversion of ALA to DHA was even lower...a paltry amount of less than 0.1%!

Members of the fairer sex did a little better. Conversion of ALA to DHA in women was 9%. Scientists believe that estrogen in women may cause this improved conversion.

Apparently, women convert ALA to DHA more effectively to meet the demands of DHA for the fetus during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Further studies performed in Switzerland also support the fact our bodies aren't very efficient at converting ALA to DHA.

Research by Swiss scientists found the conversion of ALA to EPA to be 6% and to DHA only 3.8%.

They also found that eating a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids (lots of vegetable oils, baked goods and processed foods) caused the conversion rate to lower another 40 to 50%.

Research Reference:
Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults. Burdge GC, Calder PC. Reproduction, Nutrition and Development. 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):581-97.

Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Burdge GC, Wootton SA. British Journal of Nutrition. 2002 Oct;88(4):411-20.

Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Internatioanl Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 1998;68(3):159-73.

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