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Flaxseed Oil

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About Flaxseed Oil

The humble flaxseed, also known as linseed, is a rich source of two very important fatty acids, called linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Both of these fatty acids are termed “essential”, which means they need to be obtained from the diet in order to maintain normal health and prevent the development of deficiency disease states. More focus and awareness should be placed on linolenic acid, however, which is a part of the Omega 3 family. This crucial fat is used in the body to produce both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and promotes anti-inflammatory signals in the body. 


The typical diets of those residing in developed nations tend to be far too low in Linolenic acid, or Omega 3s, containing a disproportionately high amount of Linoleic Acid, or Omega 6 fats. Research shows that most diets contain around a 20:1 ratio, which means that if we consumed half as much omega 6 and 10 times more Omega 3, we would find some balance! This was reported AP Simopoulos in the journal Nutrients in 2017. This type of disproportionate ratio puts people at risk of obesity, heart disease and hypertension, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and even some autoimmune diseases. So it can certainly pay dividends to keep one’s fatty acid affairs in check.


Ideally, we want to attain around a 1:1 ratio of these two essential fatty acids. However, bearing in mind that the body stores fatty acids, not just in body fat, but in the cell membranes of every single cell in the human body, we need to consider the fact that a high omega 6 diet that has been followed for years or decades, or even half a century, will need some more extreme measures in order to re-establish balance. Because we store these fatty acids in our body, consuming more omega 3 than 6 for a period of time is wise. This will re-establish a better fatty acid balance within the body much faster.


Food sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish and walnuts, though green leafy vegetables also contain a small amount. Flaxseed oil is a fantastic source of Omega 3s, and according to the United States Department of Agriculture contains an Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio of 3.8 to 1. This makes the oil particularly helpful for enriching the diet with this valuable essential fatty acid. Flaxseed oil is also an excellent source of natural gamma-tocopherol, which is actually one of the four forms of tocopherol. In smaller quantities, alpha, delta and beta tocopherol are also present. This is a classic example of mother nature weaving nutritional magic as Vitamin E actually stabilizes polyunsaturated fats, like Linolenic acid, thus preventing them from oxidation or rancidity.