Is Flaxseed Oil Paleo?

Although many nuts and seeds are acceptable (and even encouraged) on the Paleo diet, sometimes their oils are not nearly as healthy as the nut or seed itself. While many people use flaxseed as a way to bind their Paleo ingredients together in baking and pancakes, or to beef up their omega-3 intake, flaxseed oil is a little trickier. Let’s take a look.

What is Flaxseed Oil?

Flaxseed oil is exactly what it sounds like: the oil extracted from flaxseeds. It is unique in that it is often sold in capsules, and rarely used for cooking or salad dressings. The main draw of flaxseed oil is the omega-3 content.

Is Flaxseed Oil Paleo?

This one isn’t completely clear, so we’ll say it is sort of OK. It is unlikely that our Paleo ancestors consumed much, if any, pure flaxseed oil, though they did prize high-fat plant sources like nuts and seeds. The seeds are made primarily of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), and are prone to rancidity, and the oil is not heat stable, so it shouldn’t be used for cooking.
However, flaxseed oil is high in Omega-3s, and if you’re not into fish oil, it can provide you with the right ratio of fatty acids. It is often recommended for seasoning a cast iron skillet due to its high levels of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. You’re probably in the clear, but there are certainly other ways to get your omega-3 fatty acids.
(Additionally, there is a potential link between flaxseed oil and prostate cancer, so if you’re an older male, it might be better to stick with fish oil to balance your omega-3s.)
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