Walnut Oil: A Healthy Sub for Flax Oilhealthy fats
Over twenty years ago when I first began eating organic produce and clean meats, I discovered the wonders of walnut oil. I was introduced to this high omega-3 oil by an Ayurvedic MD. She was coaching me on some very necessary diet and lifestyle changes. The reason? I was living a completely stressed out corporate life at the time that was taking all the joy out of my life.
Prior to Dr. Wright’s recommendation to add walnut oil to my diet, I had never before heard of the wonders of omega-3 fatty acids. I certainly had never heard of cod liver oil. My introduction to the work of Dr. Weston A. Price was still quite a few years away.
I was delighted by the slightly nutty clean flavor of walnut oil. So, I enthusiastically started using it on a daily basis for breakfast. Unfortunately, the usual way I would take my walnut oil was drizzled on a bowl of organic amaranth breakfast flakes, not exactly the best way to start the day. This is because boxed breakfast cereals are toxic! However, I was moving in the right direction and any progress at all in my diet at that time proved to be extremely helpful to my health.
Walnut Oil a Better Choice Than Flax Oil?
Flax oil is the usual choice by people seeking to add plant based omega 3 fats to the diet. However, flax oil is known to sometimes exacerbate hormonal issues. This comment from Raine Saunders, of the blog Agriculture Society on a recent post I wrote titled Why Flax Oil is Not a Good Substitute for Cod Liver Oil:
Something I try to be mindful of are foods which are very high in estrogenic properties. Even natural foods like flax seeds and flax oil, like many other foods (soy, sesame seeds, and various beans), are very high in estrogen and can make certain health issues worse such as fibroids or fibrocystic breast conditions. Even if you have a traditional, balanced diet, even moderate consumption of these foods could be problematic anyway because of all the xeno-estrogens in our environment from plastics and other chemicals, which are increasingly pervasive in the world due to industry use and production of new chemicals.
Some other people also commented on that post about how flax oil caused them hormonal difficulties. Cystic or sore breasts was a common theme. Clearly there are potential dangers to consuming flax in this modern age with all the estrogen mimicking chemicals literally everywhere.
For this reason, walnut oil seems to be a better choice than flax oil for adding plant based omega-3 fats to the diet. Plant based omega-3 oils are never a good substitute for animal forms of omega-3 fats like in cod liver oil. It can, however, be a healthy addition to salad dressings in very small amounts.
How to Use Walnut Oil
Like hemp seed oil, rice bran oil, pumpkin seed oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil or any culinary oil high in polyunsaturated omega-6 and/or omega-3 fats, walnut oil is extremely delicate and can go rancid very easily. After purchasing, it must be kept in the refrigerator and can never, ever be heated or used as a cooking oil.
One or two teaspoons added to your homemade dressings adds delightful flavor and nutrition to your salads. Remember that even though healthy, omega 3 fats are still polyunsaturated oils and should comprise a very small percentage of the diet, so don’t overdo!
Please note that walnuts are slightly goitrogenic the same as flax, so if your thyroid is a problem, it may be best to stick entirely with animal based forms of omega 3 fats.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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