Fish Oil and Flax Seed are both packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. The health benefits of incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into our diet is nothing new. We have learned from other cultures that these fats are healthy. Some of these cultures such as the Inuit in Greenland eat as much as 40% of their diets in fat. However, these people have low rates of diabetes, heart disease and degenerative joint disease. The reason for this is their fatty diets are rich in marine derived omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish and fish eating mammals.
Obviously, I am not going to run around with my spear looking for the nearest seal to impale and bring to my table. I don’t even like to fish. But there are other ways to incorporate these healthy fats into our diets.
Types Of OMega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are derived from 2 sources: marine derived and plant derived. Scientific studies have shown evidence that marine derived Omega 3s’ do offer health benefits. They have shown to inhibit platelet aggregation and decreases inflammation. This omega 3 has shown to be effective in treating heart disease and joint diseases such as arthritis. Omega 3s’ are also essential for brain function. Fish oil is often referred to as a power or superfood for the brain.
Plant derived omega 3s’ can be found in highly concentrated amounts in flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed. Other sources of plant derived omega 3s’ are walnuts, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and pursulane. In order for plant derived omega 3s’ to have health effects like the marine derived fatty acids they must be converted by enzymes in the body to the marine omega 3s’ type of fatty acids. Some people lack these enzymes in their body or have a reduced ability to convert them. It is estimated that only 10-20% of the plant derived omega 3s’ that we consume is converted into active fatty acids. Flaxseed oil, for example, delivers about 340mg of omega 3′s in 6 capsules when a single fish oil capsule delivers the same amount.
Therefore, current studies show, flax seed may be an ineffective source of Omega-3 fatty acids in some people to treat heart disease and arthritis. Flax does not have the same absorpbtion quality health benefits as fish oil.