How do we know? The research says so!
Searching through the medical journals, you’ll find tons of studies showing how omega 3 fish oil benefits your brain, your eyes, your heart, your bones, your weight, your moods, your immune system and much more.
So why wouldn’t omega 3 flaxseed oil offer the same as fish oil benefits?
It’s not complicated. The benefits of fish oil come almost exclusively from two omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Flaxseed has neither of these.
Fish Oil Benefits vs Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is often promoted as an alternative to fish oil. Manufacturers claim that even though flaxseed oil doesn’t contain the essential EPA and DHA fatty acids, it does contain ALA, which can be converted.
But this claim is highly misleading. It’s misleading because the flaxseed ALA conversion process is difficult, inefficient and incomplete.
To begin with, only a miniscule ½ of 1% to 6% of ALA can be converted into EPA. Plus, ALA cannot be converted into any DHA at all. And the DHA in fish oil is vitally important for your brain and eye health.
Here’s just a few of the many research proven omega 3 fish oil benefits:
- Less depression;
- Better brain function;
- Lower incidence of stroke;
- Reduced risk of heart disease;
- Fewer PMS & menopause symptoms;
- Prevention of pain from arthritis and injuries;
- Lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure;
- And a decreased chance of death from heart attack or stroke.
According to a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fish oil, with EPA and DHA, reduces the rates of ALL causes of death. Yet, flaxseed oil produces NONE of the amazing omega 3 health benefits.
So how come more people don’t know that fish oil greatly outflanks flax? It’s marketing! Flaxseed oil is cheap. So marketers can give it a much higher mark up and make more money by leading you to believe that you can get the same omega 3 fish benefits with flax. But you can’t!
More Fishy Facts about Flax
Even the tiny amount of ALA that might covert into EPA requires a healthy digestive system, ideal circumstances and a complicated process. And if it’s successful, to get the EPA that’s naturally found in a 3 oz. serving of omega 3 rich salmon, you’d have to drink gallons of flax seed oil.
And that would be a bad idea, since the side effects of that much flaxseed oil can include excessive gas, loose stools and painful inflammation.
There are really only two reasons to resort to flaxseed oil over fish oil:
- You’re a vegetarian
- Or you’re allergic to fish.
But since all valid research proves that you can only get the phenomenal health benefits of omega 3 from fish oil, if at all possible, you should eat more omega 3 fish and take high quality, pure fish oil capsules.
My highest recommendation for the best, most complete and purest fish oil supplements, with balanced DHA and EPA, can be found here.
Mozaffarian D, Lemaitre RN, King IB, Song X, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine. Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults: A Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. 2013:2;158(7):515-25.
Wang C, Harris WS, Chung M, Lichtenstein AH, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(1):5-17.
Djoussé L, Akinkuolie AO, Wu JH, Ding EL, Gaziano JM. Clinical Nutrition. Fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acids and risk of heart failure: a meta-analysis. Clin Nutr. 2012;31(6):846-53. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.05.010.
Basch E, Bent S, Collins J, Dacey C, et al. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. Flax and flaxseed oil ( Linum usitatissimum ): a review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Soc Integr Oncol 2007;5(3):92-105.
Di Minno MN, Tremoli E, Tufano A, Russolillo A,ET AL Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.Exploring newer cardioprotective strategies: ω-3 fatty acids in perspective. Thromb Haemost. 2010;104(4):664-80.
Stuglin C, Prasad K. Effect of flaxseed consumption on blood pressure, serum lipids, hemopoietic system and liver and kidney enzymes in healthy humans. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther 2005;10(1):23-27.
Beydoun MA, Kaufman JS, Satia JA, Rosamond W, Folsom AR. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Plasma n-3 fatty acids and the risk of cognitive decline in older adults: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):1103-11.
Beydoun MA, Kaufman JS, Sloane PD, et al. Public Health Nutrition. n-3 Fatty acids, hypertension and risk of cognitive decline among older adults in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Public Health Nutr. 2008;11(1):17-29.