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fish oil vs flax oil

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Feb 26, 2008

Fish oil vs flax oil: which is better?   Fish oils are rich in Essential Fatty Acids, and most people  have thought for the past 10+ years that they are the best source.   This is because  research on EFAs focused on the fish oils for many years.   A very recent study said those taking isolated fish-oil supplements did not have better cardiovascular markers, contrary to popular belief.   Harvard-educated M.D. Donald Rudin says that his own research yielded better results with flaxseed oil.

Fish oil is problematic for a few reasons.   First, contaminants  in water sources mean a lot of fish  contain mercury or other heavy metals, or toxins called lipid peroxides.   Second, some experts say fish oil is  indigestible in the gut (that’s why you burp it up for hours after taking it).   Third,  heat destroys  the EFA alpha linolenic acid in cooking, which is something to consider if you’re getting your EFAs from eating fish.   Fourth, fish oil is  about five times more  expensive, ounce for ounce, than  flax oil.    (And probably about 20 times more expensive than whole flaxseed!)

Fish oil advocates claim that you get EPA and DHA (two fatty acids) from animal sources, whereas flax is low in DHA.   True, but on the other hand, the human body needs very little DHA, as it is stored in the cells and does not need to be replaced often.

Further,  flax is a whole plant food with lots of fiber and many other virtues, including anti-inflammatory, tumor-inhibiting, and mood- and hormone-regulating compounds.   In fact, I believe flaxseed to be potentially the most nutritious food on the planet.   The fish oil vs flax oil debate isn’t over, but  the more I read  on newer research, the more firmly convinced I become that flax will win in the end.

Posted in: 12 Steps To Whole Food, Detox, Nutrition

3 thoughts on “fish oil vs flax oil”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Before posting comments about a subject you should know the facts. Fish and fish oil does NOT contain ALA (alpha linolenic acid) this is a short chain omega 3 found in plants (ie flax seeds, walnuts, etc…). The body needs to convert this short chain omega 3 to the longer chain omega 3’s EPA and DHA. Most poeple have no problem with the conversion but there are people who, for whatever reason, is lacking the ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. These people benefit from using a fish oil rather than a flax seed oil. I am not advocating using fish oil although I believe people should use it along with flax seeds. Please make sure you know the facts before posting on a blog.

  2. Jenn says:

    Green smoothie girl – grateful for all the wonderful things you offer! Best info on fish oil bar none is found on the zonediet.com website by blood lipid scientist Barry Sears. Enjoy!

  3. sandy says:

    If we waited for ALL info to be researched before posting, no one would be able to post anything, as we are continuously learning new things and new science and research are being revealed. I appreciate ANY info at this point posted in blogs. Keep up the great work Green Smoothie Girl!

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