Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Which is better, flaxseed or fish oil?

Q. For the healthy omega-3 fats we hear so much about, which is better — ground flaxseed or fish oil capsules?

A. Fish in the diet is generally preferred, but both sources you mention are also good for you. Studies have found an association between omega-3 fatty acids and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. There are several possible reasons for this. Omega-3s lessen the heart's susceptibility to arrhythmias, lower blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels, cut the risk of blood clots, help lower blood pressure, and slow the progression of atherosclerotic plaques.

The three main sources of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found mainly in seafood and fish oil capsules, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which comes from plants such as flaxseed, walnuts, and soy. ALA is converted to omega-3 fatty acids in the body.

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