Ask the doctor: Is flaxseed oil a good source of omega-3 fats?

Ask the doctor

Is flaxseed oil a good source of omega-3 fats?

Q. Are the omega-3 fats in flaxseed oil as good for the heart as those in fish or fish oil? Do they have the same side effects? The American Heart Association warns about getting more than 3 grams of omega-3 fats a day without a doctor's supervision, but one teaspoon of my concentrated flaxseed oil — the recommended dose — contains 6.2 grams. Should I be worried?

A. There are three main types of omega-3 fats. Their names are a mouthful (eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid) so I'll use their abbreviations: EPA, DHA, and ALA.

EPA and DHA are sometimes called the marine omega-3s, since we get them mostly from seafood. People who get plenty of EPA and DHA seem to have more protection against heart attack, stroke, and sudden death than people who get little of these essential fats.

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