Flax seed oil goes rancid quickly but research has shown that despite the initial fears for ground flax seed based on the oxidation of the oil it tolerates exposure for months without any serious degradation. Because the same naturally occurring antioxidants in the seed protect it after grinding. (Similar to the way astaxathin in the microalgae protects the PUFA in their bodies then in the krill and then in the salmon that consume them.) Buying the whole seed and grinding a tablespoon at a time (usual dose) is easy with an electric coffee grinder. Flax seed also has fiber with anti-estrogen properties. As a source of ALA Omega 3 I prefer chia which has comparable levels of ALA and other nutrients. As a plant source of Omega 3 it is a good analogue of foods that would have been eaten in a species typical evolutionary diet. In Artemis Simopoulos' book on Omega 3 she advocates purslane as an excellent source of ALA and the reason why eggs from free ranging chickens in Greece (her native country) are so healthy. ALA has been the subject of research showing that it has other benefits for human nutrition aside from conversion to EPA and DHA which, agreed, is limited and insufficient.
Both almond and flax have small amounts of cyanogens which are partly or mostly inactivated by cooking. Almonds have been used continuously in the USA but not flax except for Roman Meal Cereal with not a large dose there. So the Flax Institute had to petition the gov't to recognize flax as GRAS, generally accepted as safe status. Another seed oil plant was grown and used in N America and northern Europe, Camelina, but now pretty well forgotten, though my neighbor wants to grow one or the other to produce biodiesel for his tractors. Flax would produce more volume more reliably but in either case he could feed some of the meal after pressing out the oil to his livestock.
The first response said "Flax seed meal may be paleo approved but 1. it is high in ALA which is not readily converted to DHA." I'm pretty new to paleo, so excuse my ignorance, but is this a good thing, or a bad thing?
Thanks for any clarity you might add.
I was perplexed by the acronyms, so I looked 'em up for all our sakes. ALA = Alpha Lipoic Acid, and DHA is Docosahexaenoic acid. ALA is not usually absorbable but is a supplement that people take. It is a necessary fatty acid. DHA is apparently everyone's current favorite Omega 3 fatty acid, the kind in fish oil, flax seeds...etc.
When I read a bit on wikipedia it became clear that the good fats versus bad fats questions is still quite complicated.
edit by @daz ;
it has to do with the carbon chain length of the fatty acids (how long the fats are), DHA and EPA are long chain fats, ALA is a short chain fat, which means the body has a hard time converting it to a long chain fat like DHA. now DHA and EPA are both prevalent in fish oil, some people take just a DHA supplement from various sources, like algae i think robb wolf said one time, and then the body can convert DHA > EPA, but not the other way around. Fats get really complicated when you start diving in to it...
best bet: just eat grass fed beef, wild fish, and if you REALLY need it, fish oil.