With so many different types of oils to choose from nowadays, it can be tough to pick the ones that best cater to your personal dietary, health, and skincare needs. Enter Camelina Oil.
What is camelina oil?
Before we dive into the composition of camelina oil, let’s start with the camelina itself. Camelina sativa seed, also referred to as false flax, wild fax, and German sesame, is a 4000 year old oilseed which was found in ancient archaeological Celtic sites. Hence it is also called the oil of the celts. Even back then, camelina oil was known to be special.
Up until the 1940s, camelina was an essential oil crop in eastern and central Europe, and continues to be cultivated in some parts of Europe for its oil today. Camelina oil was used in oil lamps and also as an edible oil. Camelina seed’s initial demand in the U.S. was for biodiesel production because of its high oil content (28%–40%). However, its high omega‐3 and minor lipid components like tocopherols and phytosterols (which are natural antioxidants) make it pertinent for baking and cooking, as well as for skincare needs.
Camelina seed oil contains 33%–40% of α‐linolenic acid, an essential omega‐3 fatty acid (Belayneh, Wehling, Cahoon, & Ciftci, 2015) known for improving eye health and development of infant brain and nervous systems as well as reducing risk of hypertension, and certain types of cancer (Chiu, Klein, Milton, Gensler, & Taylor, 2009; Gogus and Smith 2010).
What are the benefits of Camelina Oil?
Camelina oil has a unique composition of fatty acids and can have positive effects on cardiovascular health, circulation and general well-being through its well-balanced nutritional profile. These outstanding characteristics are at present the focus of numerous medical research studies. A high part of Alpha-linolenic acid (up to 40%) and linolenic acid (proportion Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is 3:1) makes the camelina oil a qualitive oil, which can be an important part of supplying the human body with these fatty acids. The high amount of Omega-3-fatty acids, combined with the anti-toxic virtue of the contained phytosterols and tocopherols, makes camelina oil an interesting and, above all, tasty cooking oil. Responsible for the high cutaneous tolerance and the good skin penetration is the high amount of Vitamin E (tocopherole). Due to this skin-regenerating property, the oil was used for household remedies in the past. Today it appears in many natural cosmetics.
If you happen to be in the market for an oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, camelina oil could be the right oil for you. Camelina oil contains 33%–40% of alpha-linolenic acid, which is an essential plant-based omega‐3 fatty acid known to promote eye health and development of the brain and nervous system in infants, reduce risk of hypertension, and some types of cancer. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) According to findings by Austrian university professor Gerhard Kostner of Institute for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Center for Molecular Medicine, camelina oil is particularly important for the development and function of the brain (memory, perception, control) as well as for the retina and vision. Kostner also affirms ALA, the main component of camelina oil, to be counteractant to the development of breast cancer. This verdict was validated in a France study that found women with high consumption of ALA to suffer breast cancer at significantly lower rates.
The use of camelina oil has also been found to help reduce overall and LDL cholesterol levels particularly in people with impaired glucose metabolism, according to a 2018 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (sciencedaily.com). All you gluten-free folk, we see you. Plant-based eaters, we also see you. Camelina seed oil is proven to be a promising alternative oil source to form stable omega‐3‐rich emulsions that you might otherwise get from fish or omega-3 supplements.
Therefore, there is an increased need for alternative more sustainable sources of omega‐3 fatty acids. Production of sustainable oil crops and mainly re‐evaluation of underutilized oil seeds such as the camelina seed has thus been considered as a new source for omega‐3 oils
How to use camelina oil?
When it comes to cooking, camelina oil has a light, earthy flavor that makes it perfect for cooking oil as well as for baking, making salad dressings, sauces, dips, and much more. Unlike many other oils, it doesn’t gel or solidify so it can also be a great base for overnight marinades or dressings. Camelina oil is a suitable replacement for any other vegetable oil or seed oil you might otherwise cook with or use day-to-day.
Camelina oil can be incorporated into your skincare routine or massage regimen. Because of it’s mild and pleasant aroma, it can be good to put on your body as it offers a source of Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids that smooths and moisturizes skin. It can also be used in hair, similarly to olive oil, to provide nutrition and smoothness to the scalp for these same reasons.
Is it safe?
Camelina seed oil received a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United State 2016 declaring it to be safe and healthy as a replacement for other edible oils in almost anything. By “almost anything”, we mean: baked goods and baking mixes, beverages and beverage bases, breakfast cereals, dairy replacements, fats and oils, grain products and pasta, milk and milk products, processed fruits and fruit juices, processed vegetables and vegetable juices, snack foods, soft candy, and soups and soup mixes (fda.gov/food). However you choose to use it, it’s certified risk-free.
Camelina oil vs. other oils
In comparison to other oils such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, hemp oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil, camelina oil has the most ideal ratio of essential fatty acids. The arguably most common and well-known oil, olive oil, can not compete with camelina oil’s smoke point which is much higher than olive oil’s, making it a healthier, more ideal oil for cooking on high heat. Additionally, camelina oil’s shelf life is much higher than most other expeller pressed oils due to the oil’s high levels of vitamin E, which also acts as an antioxidant.
Why don’t more people know about it?
We are wondering the same thing! However, awareness surrounding camelina oil’s abundance of benefits is certainly increasing. The Global Camelina Oil Market is projected to grow by USD 367.4 million between 2020-2024 according to leading global technology research company, Technavio.The future of camelina oil is bright, don’t sleep on it!
To try Camelina Oil for yourself, check out Ulli's organic, cold-pressed Camelina Oil. Sourced from local NY organic seeds, it is high-quality, artisanal, and crafted in small batches.
For additional information:
- Belayneh, Henok D, et al. “Development of Omega-3-Rich Camelina Sativa Seed Oil Emulsions.” Food Science & Nutrition, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 21 Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5849930/.
- University of Eastern Finland. "Camelina oil improves blood lipid profile." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180108101336.htm.
- Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Dennis M. Keefe. “Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice GRN 642.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 12 Oct. 2016, www.fda.gov/food/gras-notice-inventory/agency-response-letter-gras-notice-no-grn-000642.
- “Camelina Sativa.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 July 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camelina_sativa.
- “The Amazing Health Benefits of Camelina Oil.” Vitarock, Vitarock, 27 May 2019, vitarock.ca/blog/post/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-camelina-oil.
- Maida, Jesse. “COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Analysis- Camelina Oil Market 2020-2024: Health Benefits of Camelina Oil to Boost Growth: Technavio.” Business Wire, 13 June 2020, www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200612005510/en/COVID-19-Impact-and-Recovery-Analysis--Camelina-Oil-Market-2020-2024-Health-Benefits-of-Camelina-Oil-to-Boost-Growth-Technavio.