Is Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oil the Better Choice?

Flaxseed oil and fish oil are both promoted for their health benefits.

Both oils provide omega-3 fatty acids and have been shown to reduce risk factors of heart disease, such as high blood pressure.

Yet, you may wonder how they’re different — and if one is more beneficial.

This article explores the similarities and differences between flaxseed oil and fish oil, so you can see which is the best choice for you.

What is flaxseed oil?

The flax plant is an ancient crop that has been cultivated since the beginning of civilization.

It was first used in the United States to make fabric for clothing and other textile goods.

The flax plant contains nutritious seeds commonly known as flax seeds.

Flaxseed oil is obtained by cold-pressing ripened and dried flax seeds. The oil is also commonly known as linseed oil.

Flaxseed oil can be used in a variety of ways. It’s available commercially in both liquid and capsule form.

Countless studies have linked flaxseed oil to powerful health benefits, likely related to its high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is one of the most popular consumed dietary supplements on the market.

It’s made by extracting oil from fish tissue.

Supplements are usually made with oil extracted from fatty fish, such as herring, mackerel, or tuna, which are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Still, many individuals fall short of this recommendation.

Fish oil supplements can help you consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you’re not much of a seafood fan.

Typical fish oil supplements contain 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which is proportionate to a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of fatty fish.

Like flaxseed oil, a lot of the benefits of fish oil appear to come from its omega-3 fatty acids.

Numerous studies have linked fish oil to improved markers of heart disease.

In fact, certain fish oil supplements are often prescribed by healthcare providers to lower blood triglyceride levels.

Omega-3 comparison

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning you must get them from the food you eat, as your body can’t make them.

They’ve been associated with numerous health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation, and improved mood.

The main types of omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

On the other hand, flaxseed oil capsule contains the omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).

EPA and DHA are predominantly found in animal foods like fatty fish, while ALA is mostly found in plants.

The Adequate Intake (AI) for ALA is 1.1 grams per day for adult women and 1.6 grams per day for adult men.

In just 1 tablespoon (15 mL), flaxseed oil contains a whopping 7.3 grams of ALA, which greatly exceeds your daily needs.

SEE ALSO: NATURAL FLAXSEED OIL OMEGA 3 6 9

While ALA is still an essential fatty acid, EPA and DHA are linked to many more health benefits.

Additionally, the conversion process from ALA to EPA and DHA is quite inefficient in humans.

For example, one study found that only 5% of ALA is converted to EPA and less than 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA in adults.

Benefits specific to flaxseed oil

In addition to its above shared health benefits with fish oil, flaxseed oil may also be beneficial in treating gastrointestinal symptoms.

Studies have shown flaxseed oil may be helpful in treating both constipation and diarrhea.

One animal study proved flaxseed oil to have both laxative and antidiarrheal effects.

Another study showed that daily use of 4 mL of flaxseed oil helped improve bowel regularity and stool consistency in people with end stage renal disease on dialysis.

While these two studies are promising, more research is warranted to fully understand flaxseed oil’s effectiveness in treating constipation and diarrhea.

Benefits specific to fish oil

Fish oil has been associated with a handful of other health benefits.

For example, fish oil has been shown to improve symptoms of certain mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Additionally, fish oil may help treat behavioral disorders in children.

Numerous studies have linked fish oil supplements with an improvement in hyperactivity, attentiveness, and aggression in young children.

Which oil is better?

Both fish oil and flaxseed oil promote health and have quality research to support their respective health claims.

However, while each oil has its individual benefits, when it comes to shared benefits, fish oil may have an advantage.

This is likely because only fish oil contains the active EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids.

What’s more, ALA isn’t efficiently converted into EPA and DHA. Because only a very small amount of ALA is converted into DHA and EPA

It’s likely that taking EPA- and DHA-rich fish oil will provide more clinical benefits than taking flaxseed oil.

However, fish oil supplements may not be suitable for everyone.

For instance, some fish oil supplements may contain small amounts of fish or shellfish proteins.

Therefore, flaxseed oil may be a more appropriate choice for those with a fish or shellfish allergy.

Additionally, flaxseed may also be a better fit for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

However, there are other more effective vegan omega-3 supplements including algae oil.

The bottom line

Flaxseed oil and fish oil provide similar health benefits, including for skin and blood pressure control.

Only fish oil contains the active EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids and may be more helpful in improving overall heart health, inflammation, and mental health symptoms.

However, flaxseed oil poses its own benefits for gastrointestinal health and may be a good way to boost ALA omega-3 fatty acids for those with fish allergies or following a vegan diet.

if you’re interested in trying flaxseed oil or fish oil to improve health.

It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider first.

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