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Flaxseed Oil: For Many, it is the “Gold Standard” of Healthy Fats

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You have probably heard a lot about how some fats or oils can be “good” and some can be “bad.” For example, trans-fats have received a lot of press lately about how damaging they may be to our health. On the flip slide, olive oil is always popular in the news about its role in the Mediterranean diet and how healthy it is for us to use it in our cooking. Another “good” fat that you might not hear about as much as olive oil but that in my very humble opinion blows it out of the water in terms of healthful properties is flaxseed oil.

Flaxseed oil, which is a rich golden colored oil, is the world’s richest source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, or EFAs. Specifically, it contains about 50 to 60 percent of the omega-3 called linolenic acid. It also contains a nice amount—20 percent or so—of the EFA called omega-6, or linoleic acid.

In case you are scratching your head at this point and thinking “Uh, so what? What’s up with these EFAs and this omega stuff has me confused?” it’s okay. At first, the whole EFA/omega-3 and 6 combo can definitely seem like Greek. Let’s back up a bit and explain first why EFAs are so important.

EFAs are very important to our health, and they are not something that our bodies can produce on their own. In other words, if we want to get any EFAs at all and enjoy their health benefits, we have to get them from the food that we eat, or in supplement form. In a perfect world, we would get enough from our diets, but most of us don’t live in this world. Many nutritional experts estimate that the majority of us are low in EFAs.

The ways that EFAs may help our health are incredibly far-reaching. Literally dozens of health issues have been linked to a deficit in them, and just as many have been found to improve once enough EFAs are back in our bodies.

For example, many people have taken supplements with EFAs to help with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as just your basic dry and itchy skin. Still others have seen improvements in other health issues like asthma, depression, and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.