Tag Archives: Flax Seed Oil

What are the Omega-3 fats?

Omega 3’s are one of the two Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs – see Omega-6 blog) and the one you will hear most about in the media.
It is called an EFA because your body is not able to make the primary Omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid – ALA – see diagram) from other fats, so you have to get your supplies of Omega-3 in your food.

The richest source of Omega-3 (ALA), readily available in stores, is flax seed oil (61%). Flax seed oil also contains 16% Omega-6 and 14% Omega-9.
(Due to crazy labeling laws in NZ we are not permitted to put the Omega-6 content on our labels, unless we have more than 40% Omega-6, so our labels do not show the Omega-6 content).
Organic flax oil is produced by a sustainable process (unlike fish oil).

The only other readily available plant oils with useful amounts of Omega-3 are hemp seed oil and walnut oil (See Table).
There are a few unusual nut and seed oils which do contain useful quantities of ALA , but they are not readily available and are expensive.
You will get a little Omega-3 out of free range or grass-fed meats and green leafy vegetables – so be like Pop-eye and eat your spinach

You recall (from the Omega-6 Blog) that our bodies evolved with an equal 1 : 1 ratio of Omega-6 : Omega-3, but most people now have a ratio of between 10 to 30 : 1 in their body – way too much Omega-6.
So how do you get enough Omega-3 in your diet to get your body back into the balance it needs to be WELL?

If you look at the Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio of what are often considered the Omega-3 oils, the flax seed oil is the only one with more Omega-3 than Omega-6, so eating more hemp and walnut oil is not going to do much to improve the balance of Omega-6 : Omega-3 in your body.

So flax seed oil is the only readily available source of ALA which has the potential to reduce the major imbalance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 in your body and get it back to close to 1:1, as nature designed you to be.
That does not mean you should take straight flax seed oil every day for the rest of your life – that has the potential to be just as bad for you as too much Omega-6. Once your balance is restored then you need an oil like our Flax Balance to maintain wellness.

There is a lot of work showing very strongly that it’s not enough to treat lack of Omega-3 like – say a shortage of zinc and take a zinc supplement.
You need to get flax oil into your diet (rather than a couple of fish oil capsules) to get your Omega-6 and Omega-3 in BALANCE to get the major benefits to your wellness (more on this shortly).
The secondary Omega-3’s are obtained from plant oils like blackcurrant and from fish oils – more on that to come.

David Musgrave

Check out the best oils at http://functionalwholefoods.co.nz/

    Tip of the Day

Eat free range or organic eggs – they will give you useful amounts of Omega-3.

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Why am I blogging about Omega 3’s?

I am David Musgrave. About 20 years ago I was working as an Agricultural Scientist and the youngest of my four sons, Oliver, was 2 years old.

His older brother, Christopher, had a bad reaction to his 2 year old measles vaccination – he got bad eczema and became allergic to a whole lot of foods. By the time Oliver came along Christopher’s eczema had reduced, but it had transmuted into bad asthma, to the extent that he was hospitalised several times.

You would think that a reasonably intelligent person would connect the dots and say Christopher had a bad reaction to his measles vaccination – we won’t get Oliver immunized!

We did do a bit of reading; but information was not as freely available 21 years ago without the web! The pressure from our doctor to have Oliver vaccinated was pretty high – so he had his shot – very bad move. Within a week he had a severe case of measles and became allergic to a whole lot of common foods. The worst thing was that he started having really bad eczema, which meant he scratched himself to the point of bleeding day and night (more on Oliver’s story soon).

Fast forward two and a half years and many angst – filled sleepless nights later some-one gave us some Canadian flax seed oil and Oliver stopped scratching within days – what relief! (It may not be this fast for everyone! – it can take a couple of weeks.)

That was the beginning of my journey towards understanding as much as I could about Omega-3 fats and wellness.

Being a scientist I wanted to know how and why it worked. It also meant I had the skills to troll through the books on the subject and get into the medical literature. So over the last twenty years I have developed a deep understanding of the role of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) and many other factors involved in health and wellness.

This inspired me to start my own business in Geraldine – ‘Functional Whole Foods NZ Ltd’! manufacturing flax seed oil, and, if I say so myself, we make the best flax seed oil in the world – high in Omega-3 and great taste. Eighteen years later we are the Number One New Zealand brand and stock 860 stores, exporting to 6 countries and growing!

Over the years we have come across a lot of information in books and on web-sites / blogs / forums that is just plain wrong!! Science mis-quoted, skewed, or even ignored – old data, or misrepresentation of ALA as an effective Omega-3 fat.

For the last 22 years I have also been an organic farmer at Waihi Bush Organic Farm – a 120 hectare piece of paradise on the fertile Canterbury Plains (more on that later).

On a personal note, in 2009 I was fortunate enough to be selected to join 300 other people from the Asia/Pacific region to be trained by Al Gore and others to be a presenter about climate change. To talk to people in the community, to help them understand the issues, and make changes in their lives to live more sustainably. Governments cannot force the changes necessary – they have to come from the ground up.

So some of my passions in life which I will be blogging on, are:
• getting correct information out there on Omega-3 and
• balancing essential fatty acids for nutrition and wellness

Other passions such as Tango and other fun things, I will try and leave out of my blogs.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy what I have to say!

David Musgrave

Check out the best oils at http://functionalwholefoods.co.nz/

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Filed under How Omega-3's work