For strict dietary vegans flax meal may be the only option of increasing the omega 3 fatty acids, albeit an inefficient one. However, for most people flax seed oil’s role is very limited in the treatment of dry eye syndrome. Flax seed meal on the other hand may have a limited role. The biggest disadvantages to using flax seed oil is that you can’t cook with it (it is not stable above 160° F), it must be refrigerated and it has a short shelf life. Flax seed meal, on the other, hand can be used as a shortening substitute, has a very high fiber content, has a much longer shelf life and can be used in baking. Therefore, I would only recommend flax seed oil over omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish if someone did not like the texture of the flax seed meal or flax meal would be inappropriate in a particular recipe.
One of the best uses of flax seed meal is its high fiber content therefore, I would recommend flax seed meal in baking to increase our dietary fiber and any ALA (alpha linolenic acid) converted to the omega fatty acids is just an extra bonus. In addition, flax seeds are not digested by our bodies and should not be considered as a dietary source of fiber or omega 3 fatty acids. The flax seed’s shell is very hard and must be crushed if our bodies are to utilize it. Therefore, if you must rely on flax as a source of omega 3 fatty acids utilize flax seed meal.
This article is the fourth and final article in a series on Omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment of dry eye syndrome.