Oil extracted from oilseed plants, like flax seed, is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. They contain substances known as triglycerides and help in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body. These omega 3 vegetable oils are not only consumed in their pure form, but also added in food to improve its texture and flavor. However, it should be kept in mind that overheating these cooking oils can damage their nutritional content. In order to preserve the usefulness of these oils, only use them for salad dressing and store them in a cool and dark place.
Popular omega 3 vegetable oils are flaxseed oil, canola (or rapeseed) oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and walnut oil. They all differ in their concentration of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, triglycerides, antioxidants and vitamins. Some are used for cooking because of their high smoke point, while others are only consumed for nutritional benefits. The simple answer to the question: do omega 3 vegetable oils offer long-term health benefits, is yes. Keep reading on for more information.
The most popular among these omega 3 vegetable oils is flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil. Flax seeds are rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is a short-chain essential fatty acid. Flax seeds also contain lignans which have their own health benefits. It is known to be the strongest protection against cancer, especially breast cancer. ALA reduces formation of blood clots in the body and improves overall health of the heart. Pregnant women are strongly advised to increase their intake of flaxseed oil or flax seeds.
Canola and olive oil are widely used for cooking in all regions of the world. Olive oil is known for its connection with weight loss. Canola provides the excellent omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio among all known vegetable oils. It is considered to be the next highest source of fatty acids after flaxseed oil. Soybean usually comes a bit more expensive than other oils because it is highly refined. It also contains both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in good proportions.
Other less popular omega 3 vegetable oils are pumpkin seed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and algae oil. Corn and peanut oils contain slight percentages of saturated fats – the bad fats, but these oils can be used for cooking because of their high smoke points. There are other vegetable oils available as well that are rich in saturated fats and not recommended for people who are already overweight. These oils include cottonseed, coconut and palm kernel.
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Jean Helmet is one of the editors for a series of health sites, her latest addition is http://www.omega3-health-guide.com