Flaxseed Oil instead of Canola Oil + Fish Oil?


#1

I recently learned about flaxseed oil [from the same plant as linseed oil (flax), but made by a different process], which apparently has a desirable fat profile, having at least a 4:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids [1][2][3]. With one tablespoon (nearly 15 mL), you get approximately 8 g of omega-3 fatty acids [1][2][3]. That appears to be more than what’s provided Soylent’s 1.0 formula via the canola oil and fish oil [4]:

Soylent contains roughly 1g of each omega-3 fatty acid per day…

I assume by “each”, the macronutrient overview [4] means of omega-3, EPA, and DHA. Unlike fish oils, flaxseed oil does not contain raw EPA and DHA (the products of our bodies processing omega-3 fatty acids). According to the macronutrient overview [4] and Wikipedia [5] (I will neglect linking all the original sources), this processing happens inefficiently in the human body, at around 5%. I don’t have the expertise to say whether 8 g of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids + the time of typical bowel cycles (affecting intake) + the 5% conversion is acceptable for the amount of EPA and DHA humans need. (By the way, fish don’t actually make most of their own EPA and DHA: they get it from eating algae [6][7].)

I have not tried flaxseed oil myself (since I just learned about it), but cursory searching suggests it is not the most palatable of oils [Google, Bing, whatever search engine : “flaxseed oil taste”]. This issue is encountered when eating/drinking flaxseed straight. I would presume that eating/drinking a mixture of canola oil and fish oil is likewise unpalatable, but one is probably better tasting than the other. I would also presume that mixing 1 tablespoon of unpalatable oil with a day’s worth of Soylent would dilute it enough that it wouldn’t be noticeable. Can anyone with firsthand experience with flaxseed oil and/or an oil mixture like Soylent’s comment on this?

On Amazon, flaxseed oil [8] is about 2 times more expensive than canola oil [9]. I assume this relationship holds with wholesale suppliers, but I don’t have access to such information. I couldn’t quickly find a price for liquid fish oil, but flaxseed oil capsules [10] are at least 50% more expensive per mg than fish oil capsules [11] of the same brand. So, flaxseed oil doesn’t seem to have a price advantage.

However, flaxseed oil has a high omega-3 fatty acid content (and ratio to omega-6 fatty acids) and would be vegan. Another option could be to use powdered flax seeds. These are cheaper and have approximately the same fat content and profile, but are not in liquid form and would necessarily include additional nutrients and fiber. Because they are dry, they would also keep longer. However, I’m not aware of the extent to which Soylent relies on liquid oil for texture or nutrient uptake, so that might be a trade-off.

Thoughts?


#2

Any data on how available flaxseed oil is on an industrial scale? I’m wondering if perhaps they just couldn’t obtain a supplier capable of delivering the raw volume needed for so many orders…


#3

I’m not sure about the oil itself, but according to tables on Wikipedia about the production of rapeseed (canola) [1] and flax [2], the ratio of worldwide production of rapeseed to flax was about 39:1 in 2011. That’s disheartening.


#4

While flaxseed oil is expensive, ground flaxseed itself is decently cheap, and adds needed fiber as well as omega-3 fat content. I’d recommend bolstering cheap canola with ground flaxseed, like I have in my recipe. The taste of ground flaxseed isn’t bad at all - kind of like wheat germ with a walnut-like taste (probably due to the similar fat profile).


#5

Nah. I had some milled flax seed laying around that I used when waiting for a shipment. It increased the portion size like 2 or 3 fold. The texture was unpleasant but doable but all that extra chugging? No thanks. It was like 2 tbsp for 4 grams of fiber. Stuff vloata up when wet though.


#6

If it was an old set of flax, it could of gone bad/rancid - that does tend to be a problem with ground seeds just as with liquid oils.

Huh? How much are you throwing in there? I’ve got less than a quarter cup in my days recipe - it’s a replacement for fish oil, not canola. As for the texture, AFAIK that’s been a hurdle for soylent in general, not flax in particular. When I look at descriptions of “official Soylent” being used by journalists, it doesn’t sound that different from the taste hurdle I faced.

Although I’ve done them in the past, I’m not a huge fan of pure liquid diets. There’s nothing that says you can’t cook soylent instead of blending it into a shake, and I’ve found that it’s more palatable and surprisingly versatile that way. No chugging at all required!


#7

I was using the milled flax as a temporary stop gap for fiber not for the oils


#8

Flaxseed oil contains ALA omega 3 fatty acids. You need EPA and DHA fatty acids as well, if not more, and you need EPA to DHA in a 2:1 ratio or greater.

Fish oil is thus necessary to supply EPA and DHA, as your body barely converts any ALA to longer chains, though it is different from person to person.

All those studies you read about Omega 3 being good for the brain, for skin, for mood, those are all done with either EPA and DHA combined or EPA isolated.