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QUESTION: I'm a type B. Dr's Eades' (Protein Power) say that flaxseed oil is something to avoid. What's your take on the recent literature about this?
ANSWER: Apparently the Eades have changed their minds on flaxseed oil, as per this quote from their website:
"Since we wrote the section on eicosanoids, we have had brain transplants. (Unfortunately when Mike wrote that section he had fallen under the evil influence of our good friend, Barry Sears.) We, too, now believe that flax seed oil can be valuable and we take it ourselves and use it on many of our patients."
Essential Fatty Acids (or EFAs) unlike many other nutrients cannot be manufactured by the body and must be provided in the diet. The two essential fatty acids are often referred to by the name of their general category: linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid and therefore oils high in LA are often referred to as omega-6 oils; alpha-linoleic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid and therefore oils high in ALA are often referred to as omega-3 oils. While both categories are crucial to good health, they must be present in the body in proper balance with each other as well as in proper amounts. Most researchers describe a healthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 oils as anywhere from 1:1, to 3 or 4:1.
Some facts about flax:
Other, more anecdotal benefits include the improvement of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, immuno-suppression, psoriasis and eczema.
The average person probably doesn't have to worry about getting enough omega-6 oils unless he or she has a specific health problem: but almost everyone should consider bolstering his or her intake of omega-3's. Adding at least one tablespoon of properly processed flaxseed oil to our diets on a daily basis can significantly add to the proper balance because flaxseed oil has a 1:3 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
1.Nestel PJ, Pomeroy SE, Sasahara T, Yamashita T, Liang YL, Dart AM, Jennings GL, Abbey M, Cameron JD. Arterial compliance in obese subjects is improved with dietary plant n-3 fatty acid from flaxseed oil despite increased LDL oxidizability. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 Jun;17(6):1163-70.
2. Tou JC, Thompson LU. Exposure to flaxseed or its lignan component during different developmental stages influences rat mammary gland structures. Carcinogenesis. 1999 Sep;20(9):1831-5.
3. Harris WS. Related Articles n-3 fatty acids and serum lipoproteins: human studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 May;65(5 Suppl):1645S-1654S.
4.Singer P, Jaeger W, Berger I, et al. Effects of dietary oleic, linoleic and a-linolenic acids on blood pressure, serum lipids, lipoproteins and the formation of eicosanoid precursors in patients with mild essential hypertension. J Human Hypertension 1990;4:227–33.