Overview

Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It is called "essential" because it is needed for normal human growth and development. Walnuts and other nuts are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid. It is also found in vegetable oils such as flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, and soybean oil, as well as in red meat and dairy products.

Alpha-linolenic acid is most commonly used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, and high blood pressure. It is also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

You have probably heard a lot about other omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are found in fish oil. Be careful not to confuse alpha-linolenic acid with these other omega-3 fatty acids. Not all omega-3 fatty acids act the same way in the body. Alpha-linolenic acid may not have the same benefits as EPA or DHA.

How does it work ?

Alpha-linolenic acid is thought to decrease the risk of heart disease by helping to maintain normal heart rhythm and heart pumping. It might also reduce blood clots. Although alpha-linolenic acid seems to benefit the cardiovascular system and might reduce the risk of heart disease, research to date does not show it has a significant effect on cholesterol levels.

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