By Meredith, Pure Matters

It seems like not a day goes by without hearing about the benefits of omega-3s on the news. The fatty acids have been shown to have many benefits, from heart health to joint health to brain health to eye health. What you may not realize is that within the family of omega-3s, there are actually three types of healthy fatty acids in play -- EPA, DHA, and ALA.

EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, and tuna, especially bluefin. You can also skip the fish and cover your bases by choosing to take an Omega-3 fish oil supplement, a DHA supplement, or a krill oil supplement. Chances are, you’ve heard all about the benefits and you’re already taking one of those (if you’re not, I highly recommend Koren’s primer on the Omegas) -- but you may have overlooked the third fatty acid, ALA.

When it comes to adding ALA to your routine, your best bet is flaxseed oil. You can try a supplement (like Flax Seed Oil softgels from Pure Matters!), the true oil form, or flaxseeds themselves -- the options really are endless. You can use flaxseed oil as a healthier alternative for cooking -- I’ve had good luck finding it in natural food stores, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The seeds can be enjoyed whole (I like them in vanilla yogurt and on salads), but grinding them will give you the biggest nutritional benefits. 

Even better, since flaxseed oil is plant-based, it’s a great alternative to fish oils if you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan. (And if for some reason the idea of a flaxseed oil supplement or flaxseed in your diet doesn’t appeal to you, you can also try noshing on walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and leafy green vegetables for an extra dose of omegas.)

How can flaxseed oil potentially benefit you and your health? By adding it to your daily vitamin and supplement routine, you could be getting the following healthy boosts:

  • Battling high cholesterol? Flaxseed oil may lower cholesterol, though its impact on triglycerides is still unknown. It could also help to lower your blood pressure.
  • Managing painful arthritis? Flaxseed oil’s anti-inflammatory effects may bring you some relief.
  • Wishing you had long, lustrous locks? Much like biotin, flaxseed oil may help you in the beauty department.
  • Constipated? The lignans in flaxseed are high in fiber, which can help get your system moving along in the right direction. 

While still relatively untested, it’s also thought that flaxseed may have potential in treating some cancers, as well as diabetes, anxiety, and hot flashes. Given all the attention that’s being paid to the omegas, there’s no doubt new research will find new potential uses, too!