Your Guide to Buying the Best Flaxseed Oil
Are you looking for the best flaxseed oil?
Flaxseed oils are packaged as bottled liquids and soft gel capsules. It’s also sold under different names, such as organic, Non-GMO, refined, cold-pressed and high-lignan.
So which is the best one to buy? While I’m no expert, I’ve tested and sampled a number of different products and believe I can help you find the best kind.
The following article will take a closer look at the different types of flaxseed oils and why I chose a specific kind: cold-pressed, organic, high-lignan flaxseed oils.
7 Things to Look for When Buying Flaxseed Oils
1. Choose Cold-Pressed Flaxseed Oil:
- Cold-pressed oils are made by crushing the flaxseeds to extract the oil. There’s NO EXPOSURE to any heat or solvents when making the oil. All plant and seed oils contain a wide range of fatty acids, antioxidants, sterols and chlorophyll. And according to a study, Edible Cold Pressed Oils and Their Biologically Active Components, researchers claim that too much heat exposure can damage these healthy fatty acids and lower the nutritional value of the oil. Therefore, cold-pressed oils retain the maximum amount of nutritional value you can get from the seeds.
- Since cold-pressed oils are considered an ‘unrefined’ oil, it doesn’t have a long shelf-life unless the manufacture adds preservatives to extend the life of the oil. Therefore, when choosing these types of products, you’ll need to store it in a cold, dark place and avoid any heat exposure.
2. Made from Non-GMO, Organic Flax seeds:
- Organic flaxseed oils are better because they’re grown without any exposure to pesticides or chemicals.
- Non-GMO means the flax wasn’t grown from genetically modified organisms. According to The Institute of Responsible Technology, GMO foods are unhealthy and can cause organ damage, immune system disorders and accelerated aging.
3. Look for Flaxseed Oils with High Omega 3 Fatty Acid Levels:
- The main reason people take flaxseed oil is to get the plant-based omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Fish oil is a animal-based omega 3 fatty containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Some of the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include fighting inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels. Most people take flaxseed oil if they want to avoid fish oils due to certain lifestyles choices, such as a vegan lifestyle.
- You should choose flaxseed oils that’ll give you a higher concentration of ALA per dosage.
- According to the Flax Council of Canada, 1 tablespoon of flax oil (14 grams) contains 8 grams of ALA (or 57% omega 3 fatty acids). Based on this, I would choose products that have at least 6 – 8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids in total.
- For example, the ingredient label of Puritan’s Pride Organic Cold-Pressed Flaxseed Oil claims that one (1) tablespoon provides 6975 mg of ALA, which is 6.975 grams of omega 3 fatty acids.
4. Buy Products Packaged in Dark Bottles and a Low Oxygen Environment:
- Omega 3 fatty acids are heat-sensitive and should have minimal exposure to heat and light.
- Therefore, look for products that were made in a low oxygen environment.
- You should avoid buying flaxseed oils that come in clear bottles. Look for oils packaged in dark glass bottles or opaque containers that will help limit light exposure.
5. Buy Only 100% Pure Flaxseed Oils:
- Some manufacturers may sell ‘omega 3 oil blends’. This is where they mix the flaxseed oil with other healthy oils, such as pumpkin seed oil or hemp seed oil. Some of these products will give you a blend of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.
- You should check the ingredient label to make sure you’re only paying for a 100% pure flaxseed oil.
6. Choosing Between Flaxseed Oil Capsules and Soft gels:
- There are Pros and Cons of Using Flaxseed Oil Capsules. The main advantage is they’re tamper-proof and the ingredients are less likely to go rancid because of the protective casing. However, they may only be available in certain sizes and some people have difficulty swallowing pills or capsules.
The soft gel capsules are usually made from gelatin and other ingredients, such as plasticizers (glycerin). The gelatin is made from collagen, which comes from the hooves, skin and hide of cows or pigs.
Vegetable or Plant-based capsules can be made from plant cellulose or fermented tapioca. Sports Research Plant-Based 100% Vegan Flaxseed Oil uses a vegetarian soft gel made from tapioca starch, kosher vegetable glycerin and purified water.
- When buying flaxseed oil capsules or soft gels, I would look for products that provide higher dosages per soft gel, so that you’ll get a higher amount of active ingredients.
7. Compare Prices for Soft Gel and Bottled Oils
- When I was researching bottled liquid oils, I found they’re usually sold in 8 to 32 ounce sized bottles. The average prices ranged from 75 cents to $1 per ounce.
- If you only want buy flaxseed oil capsules, you’ll find that prices depend on the capsule dosage size and the number of soft gels per bottle. Therefore, I found that most online retailers charge about $15 – $25 for 100 capsules per bottle.
- Make sure you check the actual amount of ingredients you’ll get per single soft gel. For example, I bought a bottle of flaxseed oil capsules where it stated on the front label that it provides 500 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. I thought that was for one soft gel. However, when I looked at the ingredient label on the back, it showed that the 500 mg of omega 3 fatty acids was actually what I’d get when taking 2 capsules. I found it kind of misleading, so you need to check the ingredient labels to verify what you’re getting and paying for.
What about Buying High Lignan Flaxseed Oils?
You can also find products called Lignan Flaxseed Oil. Lignans are found in the hull of the flax seed, a fibrous plant compound.
Most flaxseed oil manufacturers remove these seed particles when making the oil, but now some are starting to add it back in due to some recent studies.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, lignans have many health benefits. Research shows they have anti-cancer properties, lower blood pressure and can even lower the risk for breast cancer.
However, before you go out and buy a ‘high-lignan’ flaxseed oil you should know these 2 important facts:
- A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the biological effects of the lignan content of flaxseed. The researchers concluded there was a highly significant difference between the effects of high-lignan vs. regular lignan flaxseed.
- There is also no RDA/RDI for lignans. This means supplement companies can advertise their products as ‘high-lignan’ without telling you just how much lignans you’re really getting in the bottle.
Acatris, a company that produces a standardized, high-lignan flaxseed supplement issued a consumer warning about these types of products. They claim that you could be wasting your money if you buy supplements claiming to be ‘high-lignan’ if it doesn’t list the actual amounts on the label. This is true, because I found that many of these products will list ‘flaxseed particulate’ on the ingredient label, but there’s no actual lignan amount listed.
So if you want the added health benefits of a lignan-flaxseed oil, I’d recommend choosing products that tell you the actual lignan content on the ingredient label. The highest source of lignans is always found in ground flaxseeds.
Some Recommended Flaxseed Oil Products:
Here’s a few products that meet the above criteria I use when buying flaxseed oils.
Barlean’s Organic Lignan Flax Oil is a popular online product. It’s Certified Organic, Cold-Pressed, packaged in an opaque dark bottle and provides over 7 grams of ALA per tablespoon. I ignore that they call it ‘Lignan Flax Oil’ because they don’t really tell you how much lignans you get anyways. However, in spite of that fact, I believe this company puts out a high quality product. Over 85% of the people who bought it gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Turns out that many customers were pleased with the freshness and delicious nutty flavor.
Lindberg Organic Flax Seed Oil is another Cold-Pressed, Certified Organic product that’s almost exactly the same as Barleans Organic Lignan Flax Oil, but it costs less. You get 7.2 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per 15 ml and you can choose between lignan or lignan-free formulas.
Naturewise Organic Flaxseed Oil Softgels is Certified-Organic, Cold-Pressed that gives you 720 mg of ALA per softgel. This is actually a bit higher dosage when compared to most soft gels that provide only 700 mg. They claim this higher purity of ALA allows them to package the oil in a softgel that’s 14% smaller than their competitors. It’s achieved over 1900 positive reviews with a 96% approval rating.
You can also find these oils at your local organic health food store and online retailers.
Remember to read the ingredient labels and research the company that makes the product before buying it. If you follow the above tips, you can be confident you’re getting a good quality flaxseed oil.