Fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike drink protein shakes to replenish nutrients lost during exercise or physical activity. You can add ingredients such as flaxseed oil to a protein shake to supply additional nutrients. Flaxseed oil is high in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. You probably don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Supplementing with omega-3 fats can improve your health and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients. Your body cannot produce them, so you must obtain them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of phospholipids that make up the membrane surrounding each cell in your body. They are also raw materials used in the production of biochemical signals that suppress inflammation and control gene expression. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people who regularly consume omega-3 fats have a lower risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
More than half of the fat in flaxseed oil is the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one tsp. flaxseed oil contains 2.3 g of ALA. While ALA is technically the only essential omega-3 fatty acid, some people may be inefficient at converting it to more beneficial forms, eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA. Nevertheless, ALA has been shown to have most of the benefits of EPA and DHA, although larger doses are required.
Mixing and Storage
In order to ensure proper mixing, add only one to two tsp. oil to your protein shake. Mix thoroughly in a shaker cup or blender. Drink the shake immediately to prevent the oil from separating from the shake. Keep flaxseed oil in the refrigerator to prevent it from going rancid. Discard any oil that has a foul or otherwise off odor.
Some flaxseed oil may have lignans added to it. Lignans are phytoestrogens, chemicals from plants with a structure similar to the hormone estrogen. Lignans are normally removed during processing, but may be added back for their potential benefits. While normally only thought of in the context of female reproduction, estrogen is important for bone, blood vessel, skin and brain health as well as a balanced metabolism. Phytoestrogens such as flaxseed lignans can reduce the effects of estrogen levels that are either too high or too low.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Medical Reference: Complementary Medicine: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Medical Reference: Complementary Medicine: Flaxseed
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Lignans; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; December 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Medical Reference: Complementary Medicine: Alpha-Linolenic Acid
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute; Essential Fatty Acids; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; December 2005