Hemp Oil vs. Flax Oil. Which One is Right for Me?
One of the most interesting questions posed to us at Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, regards the consumers attempt to balance their intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs).
Modern nutritional research shows that we generally need 3-4x as much Omega-6 as Omega-3. The common perception among people aware of the issue is that they are getting enough Omega-6 in their diet but not enough Omega-3. This prompts the repeated question;
"Shouldn't I be eating flaxseed oil, which has high Omega-3 instead of the balanced hemp seed oil?"
Perhaps, but the person who feels they are getting enough Omega-6 in their diet has five things to consider:
1. Omega-6 and Omega-3 can also be bad fats. If they have been heated past 360 degrees F, hydrogenated, bleached, winterized, deodorized or refined in any way, chances are that the fatty acid has been altered from its good configuration to its bad "trans" configuration.
2. Is their current source of Omega-6 a quality source of Omega-6? If the Omega-6 they are getting hasn't come from a light and oxygen impermeable container, which has been refrigerated, the Omega-6 will be either "trans" or rancid. Looking at the common sources of Omega-6 we see that Canola oil is usually bleached and deodorized and comes hydrogenated or deep-fried. Corn oil is usually bleached and deodorized as is sesame and soybean oil. If one takes a walk down the grocery isle they will see that all of the corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut and soybean oils are sitting at room temperature, in clear containers with no expiry date. The Omega-6 fats in these products are not in their good configuration. Therefore anyone relying on these sources for good Omega-6 fats is deceiving themselves.
3. There is a question of mutual presence. If you are eating a good supply of unrefined sunflower or safflower oil, flax may be the optimum choice to balance the Omega-6 and the Omega-3 ratio. But, one should ask, "Is it best to get your Omega-6 in one meal and your Omega-3 in another, or is it best to have them both present at the same time?"
4. Hemp seed oil offers the direct metabolites of Omega-6 and 3, Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) and Stearidonic Acid (SDA). These metabolites are involved in the production of prostaglandin for hormones and in immune functions. Even if one did get unrefined sunflower oil and mixed it with unrefined flaxseed oil, you would mimic hemp seed oil's Omega-6 to 3 ratio, but still be missing their direct higher metabolites.
5. Taste. Our experience has shown that after a certain time, most flaxseed oil consumers become tired of its taste. For these people, the pleasant nutty flavor of hemp seed oil is a welcome change.
At Manitoba Harvest we do not discourage consumers from unrefined high quality flaxseed oil, but merely offer them hemp seed oil as a way to increase their options for optimum fat intake.