Flaxseed oil vs Fish oil. Which one is better?

Date Posted:22 June 2023 

Fish oil and flaxseed oil are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they are all good options for people who are looking to reduce inflammation, improve heart health and support brain function.

Fish oil is high in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), while flaxseed oil is rich in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). The different omega-3 fats are like siblings – they are alike in some ways and different in others.

ALA is an essential omega-3 fat. The word “essential” means that we must eat ALA in our diets because our bodies cannot make it. In other words ALA is an essential nutrient just like vitamine C and calcium. The human body needs ALA to be healthy. The two other omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are vital for health, but they are not strictly “essential” because our bodies make them from ALA.

In one study, the blood level of EPA increased 60% when 56 African-American adults with chronic illness consumed 3 grams of ALA daily for 12 weeks. The source of ALA in this study was flax oil capsules.

ALA is found mainly in flaxseed and walnuts and in plant oils like flax, canola and soybean oils. Flax seeds and flax oil are the richest source of ALA in the North American diet.

Flaxseed oil is a good option for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or for those who have an allergy or sensitivity to fish. Flaxseed oil is obtained by cold-pressing ripened and dried flax seeds which come from the flax plant. It’s available commercially in both liquid and capsule form.

In a clinical study involving adults with moderate high blood cholesterol, eating a diet rich in ALA from walnuts, walnut oil, and flax oil reduced the blood level of one marker of inflammation by 75%.

EPA and DHA are found mainly in fatty fish like herring, salmon, mackerel and bluefin tuna and the fish oil supplements made from them. White fish like haddock, cod, flounder, sole and orange roughy, along with the fried fish fillets made from these white fish contain small amounts of EPA and DHA.

All omega-3 fats are alike in keeping the body’s cell membranes flexible and elastic to help cells work properly and they block the actions of some compounds that cause inflammation.

Chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis are marked by inflammation.

Source: Flax Council Of Canada - https://www.flaxcouncil.ca/