Flax seed oil.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Another Flax Seed Question
From: sfjr.wam.umd.edu (Steve Russell)
Date: 23 Dec 1994 18:32:44 GMT

I recently read in MIND, FOOD, AND SMART PILLS that flax seed oil can go a long way to safeguarding your health by supplying omega 3 acids via 2 tablespoons of the stuff a day.

Would a strict vegetarian ( whole grains, legumes, veggies, fruit and soy ) need as much?

I've had a hard time finding anyone who carries the oil. Are the capsules useful as well and if so how many per day?


From: Anna Peekstok <peekstok.u.washington.edu>

> I recently read in MIND, FOOD, AND SMART PILLS that flax seed oil

Yeah, I heard that too, and tried and TRIED to choke that stuff down on a daily basis. Bought it fresh, kept it refrigerated and out of the light, mixed it with strongly flavored beverages, and still had a devil of a time keeping myself from hurling as soon as I'd forced it down my throat. That stuff tastes BAD!

From: eee.netcom.com (Mark Thorson)

Of all food animals, the pig is most similar to a human. Like humans it is by nature an omnivore, unlike cattle, goats, and sheep which are herbivores. The USDA publication Atlas_of_Meat_Inspection_Pathology_ (USDA, 1972) is a guide for meat inspectors, not human nutrition. But here are some interesting comments on the effects of flaxseed oil consumption on pigs, quoting from pages 165-167:

"Steatitis ('Yellow Fat' Disease) in Swine"

"Definition.--Steatitus ('yellow fat' disease) in swine is a yellow pigmentation of adipose tissue associated with the use of fish products and flaxseed as feed."

"Distribution and incidence.--Steatitus usually occurs near fisheries where cannery wastes are fed to swine. The disease is also found on fur ranches where the remains of mink feed containing fish products are consumed by pigs. The use of feed containing other substances possessing highly unsaturated fatty acids, such as flaxseed, will also produce the disease."

"Feeding swine rations containing excessive amounts of highly unsaturated fatty acids and inadequate quantities of tocopherols causes porcine adipose tissue to contain a yellow, acid-fast pigment. The pigment consists of fat soluble and fat insoluble fractions and the latter possesses acid-fast staining characteristics. Fat cells can incorporate and stabilize unsaturated fatty acids as 'storage fat' if vitamin E, an antioxidant, is added to a ration rich in unsaturated fatty acids."

"The fat of affected swine has an odor of fish that can be accentuated by heating the tissue. Swine having steatitus tend to be thin and in poor physical condition."

"Macroscopic appearance.--Subcutaneous and mesenteric fat, in particular, show the alterations characteristicof this dietary disease. Affected fat is slightly opaque and firmer than normal and varies from bright yellow to yellowish brown."

"Microscopic appearance.--Foreign fat globules, some of which contain an acid-fast pigment, are deposited in the interstices of the adipose tissue. This deposition appears as fine droplets or, quite frequently, as larger discrete globules in groups or islets of variable size. At time the globules have a pericapillary and periarteriole location. Adipose cell tissues themselves are usually not affected. Occasionally, foreign fat globules are seen within adipose cells and their presence is interpreted to represent a permeation into the normal storage fat rather than a disturbed metabolic process. Foci of inflammation composed of collections of macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, and an occasional foreign-body giant cell may be present between the adipose cells. These macrophages and giant cells contain droplets of yellow fat. This inflammatory reaction is the basis for applying the name 'steatitus' to the condition."

From: Robert_Betts.mindlink.bc.ca (Robert Betts)

> Some observations in reference to Mark Thorson's repeated quoting from The USDA publication _Atlas_of_Meat_Inspection_Pathology_ (USDA, 1972):

I guess pigs would eat rancid fats ... like humans do. Pigs also like to rut around in horse manure. I have serious doubts as to the quality of the stuff being fed to pigs in the above mentioned article. Incidentally, my goats have been doing much better since I stopped giving them rancid linseed oil cake from the feed store and started using left over flax meal from the kitchen.

We have been using fresh ground flax meal for about 10 years now. Using this flax and eliminating hydrogenated oils and margarine have been coincidental with major improvement in a family member with schizophrenia.

It is not clear weather or not flax should be cooked. In any event, it is a very delicate oil and should be eaten as soon as possible after the seed is broken or cooked.

As for the taste test, we prefer the ground flax over store bought flax oil. It goes nicely with cooked morning cereal and can be prepared in seconds with a little whirly blade coffee mill. As for hydrogenated oils, and over heated, rancid oils in general, the smell of it turns my stomach when I go past restaurants. It has a lot to do with the programming of your 'memory banks'. Changes can take a while, requires an open mind and courage to resist media peer herding.

Unfortunately, quality flaxseed is such a cheap source of high quality essential fatty acids that there is apparently little motivation to do extensive clinical trials with humans (no patent monopoly motive).