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For a healthy heart, try a veggie version of fish oils

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Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 8:17 am

Dear Pharmacist: I’m taking a prescription drug version of fish oils for my heart and cholesterol. I want a plant-derived option because I’m a vegetarian, plus I get “fish burp.” Are there plant-derived essential fatty acids, or do you have to get it from fish? — H.B., Plano, Texas

Answer: Fish burp often happens if you have a deficiency of probiotics and digestive enzymes, however people assume the burp happens from rancid oil. Fish oils aren’t usually rancid nowadays. They are the gold standard supplement for people seeking essential fatty acids.

I’ve been a fan of essential fatty acids and fish oil in particular for many years. However, I respect your desire to find a vegetarian source.

Depending on the oil, you won’t get as high a concentration of EPA and DHA from a non-fish oil supplement, but you will get other benefits. I personally take plant-derived essential fatty acids and cook with some, too! I put other oils on my face, too. I’m not fat-phobic. I think good “fats” are crucial to feeling well. Oils lube the joints, help with regularity, plump the skin and support heart health.

Here are my favorite oils and how you can take them. You can decide what’s right for you. Not all of them have EPA/DHA in them; these are just my personal favorite oils:

Coconut oil

I love applying this to my skin and cooking with it. I also put this in my smoothies. Coconut oil is known to support brain health.

Chia seed oil

I love chia seed oil as a supplement (Chia Omega by Essential Formulas is sold at health food stores nationwide). Chia seed oil provides your body with “alpha linolenic acid.” Then your body converts that to some EPA and DHA, which are the two primary ingredients in fish oil. Chia seeds also provide quercetin and antioxidants to support general cellular health.

Grape seed oil

I love cooking with grape seed oil because it has a mild flavor. I use it in my pesto sauce recipe, in salad dressings and in place of olive oil.


A superfood used to combat malnutrition for centuries. The name “moringa” means “reddish brown,” likely referring to the seed color. One popular brand is made by Organic India and I like this one because they use organic moringa. Plus, it comes in a powder for my smoothies and softgels for supplementation.

Argan oil

It comes from a nut common to Morroco and it’s used cosmetically. I use it on my skin for fine lines and my elbows and heels. I sometimes spray “Moroccan Oil” on my hair for lightweight shine.

Flaxseed oil

It provides a natural source of estrogen, which is thought to knock out bad estrogen from your cells. Like chia seed oil, it provides the precursor to EPA and DHA, which translates to protection for the colon, breast, prostate, heart and joints.

This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Suzy Cohen is the author of “The 24-Hour Pharmacist.” For more information, visit www.dearpharmacist.com.

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