Are Nut & Seed Oils High in Omega-3’s Healthy?

You’re likely familiar with the supposed healthy nut and seed oils, like walnut, macadamia, and flax. Generally, we’re advised to consume them because they have a favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Flaxseed-oil

As we’ve discussed, the maintenance of a favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is one of the keys to living a long and healthy life, because it determines the level of inflammation in our body. And the more often we experience inflammation, the more we raise our risk of developing a degenerative disease.

Heart disease, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s are all linked to chronic (or systemic) inflammation.

In other words, foods higher in omega-6 are pro-inflammatory, meaning they cause inflammation, while omega-3 dominant foods reduce inflammation (they’re anti-inflammatory).  So we aim to eat foods composed mainly of omega-3 fatty acid.  Especially when you consider that the average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in 2009 was 25:1, and a healthy ratio is between 1:1 and 1:4!

optimal-omega6:3-ratio

Though this somewhat suggests that nut and seed oils high in omega-3’s are healthy, there’s more to consider when looking at foods in liquid format. If you recall, when fats are predominantly unsaturated they’re more susceptible to oxidation; and this extends far beyond exposure to heat, light, and oxygen after we’ve purchased them.

Nuts and seeds are not only predominantly unsaturated, but their oils aren’t exactly easy to obtain (ever squeeze oil out of a seed?). They’re usually heated, or put under intense pressure to extract. Exposing them to oxidation before they even get to the various bottling plants, shipping containers, storage facilities, and retail stores.

Flax seeds are a great example with respect to this topic, as they’re composed of a nearly perfect 1:2 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Yet they’re also 70%+ polyunsaturated, very tiny and dense, and aren’t exactly salivating with oils.

rancid-flaxseed-oil

Where and when the oxidation occurs, we may never know, but by following the Live It NOT Diet! principle to cook with saturated fats (coconut oil, butter) and flavor with fruit oils (olive and avocado oil) we reduce our risk of any unnecessary free radical damage.

Nuts and seeds are DEFINITELY beneficial in their whole form, and probably detrimental in their liquid form.

So, you can go ahead and eat plenty of walnuts, macadamia nuts, and flax seeds, but they’re best consumed as nature intended…as nuts and seeds.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike


RELATED LINKS:

The Best Fats to Cook With?

Blame Margarine NOT Animal Fat

Why You Should Avoid Vegetable & Seed Oils

Olive Oil - When To Use It & What To Look For

Nature's MCT Oil - That's You're Probably Not Consuming