Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil

August 28, 2018
by Jillian Gordon for Thrive Market
Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil

Oh baby, are we into omegas! As research continues to stack up as to why these fatty acids are so beneficial, our quest to find the best source for loading up on omegas continues to grow. Enter flaxseed and fish oil. While one is vegan, vegetarian, and the only plant-based source of fatty acid, the other boasts two mighty omega-3s for the price of one. So which oil is best and how can you include them in your daily diet? Here’s a deeper dive into these superfood supplements.

What Is Flaxseed Oil?

Flax Seed Oil

Flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acid—including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that can only be acquired through diet—that’s made by pressing dried, ripened flaxseed. As the only fatty acid derived from plants, flaxseed oil is a favorite source of omegas amongst vegans and vegetarians especially.

Benefits of Flaxseed Oil

We’ve celebrated the benefits of flaxseed before, but flaxseed oil is also packed with nutrients. A single serving of the plant-based oil delivers:

  • 500mg of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid)
  • 110mg of omega-6 fatty acid
  • 110mg of omega-9 fatty acid

How to Use Flaxseed Oil in Your Diet

From softgel supplements to cold-pressed oil, it’s easy to incorporate this omega-rich powerhouse into your daily diet. The oil itself has a pleasant nutty taste, making it a great swap for (uncooked) EVOO in many recipes. Try it in salad dressings, drizzle over popcorn, or use it in veggie dips. You can even add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies or protein shakes for a fatty acid boost.

What’s the difference between flaxseeds and flaxseed oil?

While both flaxseed and flaxseed oil are sources of omega-3s, flaxseed also contains dietary fiber and lignans (a phytonutrient that acts as a natural antioxidant). Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, does not contain protein or fiber and offers less lignans (roughly half the amount). Some may argue that flaxseed oil is not a “whole” food since it’s processed (through cold pressing) into oil. However, flaxseed oil has a greater bioavailability of omega fatty acid ALA than flaxseed, making it a nutrient-dense pantry staple.

How much flaxseed oil should I take?

Taking 4-5g (less than a tablespoon) of flaxseed oil a day will provide enough ALAs to fulfill your daily recommended intake, but many suggest taking as much as 8g per day to enjoy its full benefits. Still, it’s a good rule of thumb to work your way up from 1 to 2g a day at first to see how your body responds. As with any supplement, consult with your doctor before taking.

Can you cook with flaxseed oil?

Because it can be easily oxidized and breakdown under high heat, flaxseed oil is not traditionally used as a cooking oil like EVOO or coconut oil. However, the plant-based oil can be lightly incorporated into baking recipes like this vegan treat and serves as a wonderfully rich and nutritious addition to salad dressings and smoothies or drizzled over potatoes and vegetables. (Note: Store flaxseed oil in the fridge to help maintain its powerful omega-3 structure, which can breakdown when exposed to heat or sunlight.)

How to season a pan with flaxseed oil

Seasoning a pan is the process of rubbing and baking coats of oil into a cast-iron skillet with the intention of creating a patina for cooking that can withstand washing and wiping. Many cooks feel flaxseed oil works well for seasoning since it helps to prevent scratching and keeps the surface smooth and even. To season, purchase a 100% organic flaxseed oil that’s high grade and requires refrigeration, then follow these instructions:

  1. Rub a coat of oil into the pan.
  2. Place the pan in the oven and set to its highest degree (500°F for example).
  3. Keep the kitchen area well ventilated. Cook for 1 hour.
  4. Turn off oven and keep pan in oven as it cools.
  5. Remove and repeat for six rounds.

The Best Flaxseed Products

Flex your flaxseed oil know-how with these superfood oils.

Barlean’s Flax Oil

Cold-pressed, certified organic, and non-GMO, this unrefined oil is packed with nutrients and formulated for purity.

Thrive Market Flax Seed Oil

Support heart, skin, and immune health while getting your daily dose of omega-3s with our premium-grade supplement.

Spectrum Essentials Organic Shelf Stable Flax Oil

Add it to soups, salads, or smoothies, this Certified Organic, triple-filtered oil includes rosemary and vitamin E to maintain freshness.


What Is Fish Oil?

Fish Oil

As the name suggests, fish oil is obtained from fish that are rich in two forms of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The fish produce these nutrients by eating algae, krill, or other plants that produce omega-3 fatty acids. While fish oil is therefore not vegetarian, it’s a go-to supplement for those that eat fish because of its high, twofold omega content that can’t be sourced through plants.

Benefits of Fish Oil

Since our bodies need omega-3s as a building block for protein but can’t manufacture these essential amino acids from scratch, supplements like fish oil are especially beneficial. A 1000mg serving of fish oil provides:

  • 180mg of EPA
  • 120mg of DHA

How to Use Fish Oil

Fish oil is traditionally consumed as a daily supplement in either liquid or softgel form. However, some complain that incorporating fish oil into a daily supplement routine can also bring about a nasty side effect: fishy burps. The good news? There are tricks to limiting this digestive unpleasantness such as keeping your capsules in the freezer (it will take your digestive track longer to break it down), taking a spoonful of a flavored variety of fish oil before brushing your teeth, taking the supplement with food, or taking a digestive enzyme with your daily dose.

How much fish oil should I take?

Depending on the amount of DHA and EPA offered in your fish oil supplement, most organizations recommend aiming for at least 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day. Consult with your doctor before adding fish oil to your daily routine.

When is the best time to take fish oil?

Dinnertime. Why? Studies suggest taking fish oil before bed can promote better sleep and taking it with food can help prevent possible digestive discomfort that can accompany taking an omega-rich supplement.

Can you cook with fish oil?

No. Because of its high concentration of polyunsaturated fats, which can oxidize and form free radicals under high heat, fish oil should never be used for cooking. Instead, consume it as a dietary supplement and store in your fridge to extend its shelf life.

The Best Fish Oil Products

Consider your wish for fish oil granted with these coveted favorites.

Barlean’s Lemon Zest Omega Swirl Fish Oil

Not only does this this zesty oil deliver 720mg of EPA/DHA per serving, but the bright, fresh lemon flavor helps nix the fishy taste.

Thrive Market Fish Oil

Sourced from wild-caught anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, each softgel contains 1000mg of fish oil, along with 180mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA per serving.

New Chapter Wholemega Prenatal Fish Oil

A serving of these prenatal softgels imparts, sourced from wild Alaskan salmon, provides 17 omega fatty acids to help support healthy brain and vision development.

Carlson Labs Kids Fish Oil - Lemon

This sustainably sourced fish oil has an award-winning lemon flavor, which makes it a winner with the kiddos.

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Flax Oil
16 oz bottle

Retail Price:$22.63


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Flax Seed Oil
180 softgels

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Organic Shelf Stable Flax Oil
8 fl. oz bottle

Retail Price:$11.19


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Lemon Zest Omega Swirl Fish Oil

Retail Price:$29.95


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Fish Oil
240 softgels

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Wholemega Prenatal Fish Oil

Retail Price:$60.99


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Kids Very Finest Fish Oil - Lemon Flavor

Retail Price:$26.50


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This article is related to: Healthy Living, Supplements, Flaxseed Recipes

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