Flax is one of those things that…well…I didn’t know much about until I wrote this post. I was surprised at how many uses can come from flax. So let’s outline those first (before we get into the “is it healthy” conversation). Flax can be used for:
- Flax fibres are actually stronger than cotton and can be used to make linen
- Flaxseed (or linseed) oil is used to dry paintings
- Flax seeds (while not as easily digested when whole) can be ground and added to food
- Flax can also be grown for the flowers
- You can find flax supplements (in the form of pills) at most stores
Flax is often pushed as a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. While that’s not false – there are still many other ways to get the recommended ratio of omega-6’s to omega-3’s. While flax contains ALA (which is a fatty acid), it lacks EPA and DHA (also fatty acids) which are proven to improve cardiovascular health. ALA is not equivalent to EPA/DHA. EPA and DHA are more rapidly incorporated into the body and both can be found in fish oil. According to Mercola.com, it takes 3-4 grams of ALA to equal 0.3 grams (300 mg) of EPA. While the solution can seem obvious (just take fish oil supplements!), fish oil can contain high doses of mercury if you’re not careful with the source.
Some things to keep in mind when using flaxseed oil as a supplement:
- It needs to be refrigerated and can go bad quite quickly
- It can often cause nausea
Ground or milled flaxseed is the most common way to ingest this plant. You can buy the seeds whole (and grind in your coffee grinder) too. It’s recommended that you keep ground flax in a cool area sealed tight. It seems that it can often go rancid when left unaddressed. Add it to baked goods, yogurt and more.
So Consider This
So after most of my research, I’ve realized that I will continue to use milled/ground flax in my smoothies and grain-free bread recipes. I definitely need more fiber since I’m not eating much grain but don’t plan on ever trying flaxseed oil in my diet. I have a great fish oil supplement that I get from my mom (Pure brand) that I trust taking.
The real goal is to make sure your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 1:1. Most of our ratios look a little like 50:1 and that’s not good. Soon we’ll post a in-depth article on omega-6/omega-3! Be sure to list any questions you have below in the comment section!