It is easy to see why these 2 oils have been under scrutiny for so long. Their similar health benefits are undeniable…
Yet despite being enriched in omega-3s – which have been proven to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and risk of strokes – this is where their similarities end.
In fact, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, there is obviously one clear winner in this debate. Why? Because the type of omega-3s they produce are not equally efficient.
How are their omega-3s different?
For years flax seed oil has been favoured over fish oil as it contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – a fatty acid which can also be used to produce EPA and DHA (this is one omega-3 up on fish oil which only contains EPA and DHA).
But here is where things get interesting…
Just because flax seed contains ALA – which can make EPA and DHA – doesn’t mean it makes these 2 omega-3s efficiently. In fact, flax seed oil arguably makes the whole process more complicated than it needs to be because:
- ALA has to be converted into useable EPA before it can be used (this involves using 7 complex enzymes)
- Recent studies have found that flax seed oil cannot be converted in DHA at all
And this can spell bad news for your body as DHA in particular is needed for brain and eye health (both when you are developing in the womb and as you get older).
But this is not all…
Whilst teenage girls are able to convert flax seed ALA into usable omega-3, older women, boys and men are unable to use flax seed at all.
So fish oil is better?
In terms of your long term health, yes as it provides you with the correct levels of all these omega-3s. Similarly, there is none of the complication of having to make EPA and DHA as these omegas already exist within this oil.
However, despite all this, this doesn’t mean flax seed oil is completely useless.
It can still offer you the same health benefits as fish oil such as your blood pressure and cholesterol. The only difference is, you’ll need to take more flax seed oil in order to see the same results. As proven by a recent study, where scientists found that taking 6 flax seed oil pills in the morning and then again in the evening produced the same health benefits of 1 fish oil pill.
Flax oil vs Fish oil
Fish oil certainly has got the upper hand, but that doesn’t mean taking flax seed oil won’t benefit your diet. After all, you still need ALA which fish oil doesn’t contain.
Simply aim to create a healthy balance between these 2 oils and combine them with a nutritious diet. In no time at all, your body will begin to benefit from their numerous health perks.