A Powerhouse of Omega-3s
On a per weight basis flax oil contains 57% Omega-3 ALA, 16 % Omega-6 LA, 18 % monounsaturated fatty acids, 9 % saturated fats. Flax oil is considered the richest source of plant- based Omega-3 ALA. The bioavailability of Omega-3 ALA from flax oil is considered very high (Austria et al. 2008).
Small amounts of flax oil provide ample amounts of Omega-3 ALA. 1 tsp flax oil provides up to 3.5 g Omega-3 ALA. Adequate intake of Omega-3 ALA is especially important for vegetarians and vegans who rely on plant- based Omega-3 ALA.
Healthy Mix of Fatty Acids
Flax oil possesses a very healthy mix of fatty acids with an abundance of omega-3 ALA fatty acids and smaller amounts of Omega-6 LA fats. The benefits of including flax oil in diets are based on the exceptional amounts of Omega-3 ALA in flax oil. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are considered essential fatty acids that need to be obtained from food. Omega-3 ALA is incorporated into the membranes of body cells to keep them flexible and fluid. Omega-3s are considered “gate keepers” of cells as they allow the entry of nutrients into cells and the removal of toxins out of cells. More important they are converted into hormone like substances that influence many physiological processes and regulate inflammatory responses.
Balancing the Ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3
Critical for the proper functioning of body cells is the optimal ratio of omega-6 to Omega-3. Due to the high availability of foods rich in Omega-6 LA it is crucial to increasing the amount of Omega-3 ALA in the diet to balance the ratio of omega-6 to Omega-3. Improving the ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 can impact health. It helps to reduce proinflammatory reactions and consequently reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis are conditions marked by high inflammation. The anti inflammatory and cardio protective effects of Omega-3s in the human body are well documented.
A Boost for the Immune System
The Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) impacts the immune system by changing the composition of the cell membrane and therefore regulate their properties. Omega-3s also act as signaling compounds and disrupt and modulate pro inflammatory processes (Gutiérrez et al 2019). The Omega-3 ALA can strengthen the immune system by influencing the production of compounds that affect inflammatory responses and inflammatory markers. When Omega-3 ALA intake is low and Omega-6 intake is high the production of pro- inflammatory is favoured. The opposite is true when ALA intake is high and LA Intake is low. A proinflammatory situation is associated with chronic disease.