Ahiflower Oil: The New Vegan Omega-3

Vegetarians now have another omega-3 option besides flaxseed and hemp. Ahiflower oil, which comes from a flowering plant primarily grown in the UK, is hitting the supplement market. Here's what you need to know.
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Vegetarians now have another omega-3 option besides flaxseed and hemp. Ahiflower oil, which comes from a flowering plant primarily grown in the UK, is hitting the supplement market. Here's what you need to know.
The blossom of the Ahiflower. 

The blossom of the Ahiflower. 

Ahiflower oil, a relatively new vegan source of omega-3, got a fair share of attention at the 2017 Natural Products Expo West because it’s significantly different from other plant-based omega-3 oils like flaxseed and hemp.

How so? The main omega-3 found in plant foods (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) is found in both flaxseed oil and hempseed oil, but unlike flaxseed and hemp oils, ahiflower oil also contains a lesser-known omega-3 called stearidonic acid (SDA). SDA actually boosts the body’s levels of heart-healthy eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – one of the two omega-3s found in fish oil – far more efficiently than ALA does.

In addition, ahiflower oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fat that’s found primarily in evening primrose oil. It also contains a smattering of the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil, omega-9.

The only drawback to ahiflower oil, as with all plant-based omega-3s, is that it doesn’t boost blood levels of docosahexanoic acid (DHA), the second of the two important omega-3s found in fish, and the one that has the most effect on the brain. But if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, don’t despair. There is a plant-based source of DHA available from algae, and taking ahiflower oil along with algae-based DHA would be the perfect vegetarian solution for increasing omega-3 intake.