Benefits of Flaxseed: Why You Should Choose this Fish-free Omega 3
I feel like every day we are bombarded by news on the newest dietary supplement or must have meal replacements and it only gets harder and harder to follow. It’s like trying to keep up with which Kardashian is getting pregnant and which one is getting divorced. At some point I just tune out.
Though recently I have been intrigued by one particular supplement that involves an issue that is close to my heart – that of Omega 3 fatty acids. This type of fatty acid is essential for overall health to aid in everything from optimum brain functioning to heart health and can only be obtained through diet. The main reason that it popped up on my radar is that the majority of people are obtaining them through fish oil supplements or salmon. But both of these solutions raise concern about the consumption of such a large amount of fish products.
The first cause for concern is the unsustainable way the oceans are being overfished. The majority of the salmon sold in the U.S. are farmed in the Atlantic and on the Avoid list of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch because of their negative environmental impact.
The second is increasingly alarming because of the high levels of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that they contain which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as cancer causing agents. A study of more than two metric tons of salmon showed that farm raised salmon contained significantly more PCBs than wild caught salmon. Studies have also shown that the amount of PCBs found in the most commonly sold fish oil supplements would require warning labels according to California’s Proposition 65.
The issue of PCBs is especially concerning for women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant because of the potential harm to the baby. PCBs have been found in some prenatal vitamin supplements that contain fish products.
But all is not lost. There is an excellent alternative that will give you the dose of Omega 3s you need to achieve your optimum health fish-free! And the answer is….drumroll please… flaxseed!!! (Ok, so I indulged in some Christmas Vacation this weekend and couldn’t resist the reference. And I guess I gave away the surprise in the title of this post.)
The best way to get your Omega 3s from flaxseed is through ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil. These are recommended over whole flaxseeds because it increases absorption into the system. According to the Mayo Clinic, one tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3s), 2 grams of fiber and 37 calories. Flaxseed also contains a high level of lignans which may help prevent certain types of cancer. So not only do you get your Omega 3s naturally, but you also get the health benefits of the fiber (helps with digestion, weight loss, lower cholesterol) and lignans which you won’t find in fish oil.
And the best part is that it is easy to take! You can use it on cereal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, veggies, rice, pasta and just about anything else. The taste is subtle, a little nutty but not usually noticeable. I actually have grown quite fond of it. And I put it on everything. You can also add the oil to salad dressings, stir frys, rice and whole host of other meals. And it doesn’t leave you with a stinky fishy aftertaste.
Here is one of my favorite recipes that includes flaxseed!
And here is my favorite organic flaxseed meal I add to anything and everything!
How do you like your flaxseed?