Benefits of alpha-Linolenic acid

Alpha-Linolenic acid is a type of Omega-3 which has been researched for its ability to maintain normal cholesterol levels. Find out more about its uses and benefits in this FAQ.

What is ALA?

Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is one of the fats that makes up Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, and is found in plant oils such as flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnut oils. Seed oils are the richest source of ALA. Some studies have shown ALA may help to maintain normal cholesterol levels.

Woman making a heart shape with hands

British Heart Foundation statistics reveal that 60% of the UK adult population have high cholesterol

The benefits

Alpha-linolenic acid has undergone numerous clinical trials demonstrating its efficacy at helping to maintain normal cholesterol levels. Because our bodies are unable to produce ALA, it needs to be taken through food or supplementation.

Clinical trials

A number of clinical trials have shown the ability for alpha linolenic acid to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. ALA has been compared in a 2004 clinical trial1 to the average American diet as well as to Omega-6.

In 2002 a study2 looked at Rapeseed oil (high in Omega-6) and Olive oil (high in Omega-9) as well as Camelina oil (high in ALA Omega-3) and found the Camelina oil performed favourably.

A 2006 trial3 compared alpha-linolenic acid to EPA & DHA from fish oil and looked at the effects on cholesterol levels of each.

And a large study4 in 2003 looked at the daily consumption of 1575 patients, who were invited to detail their intake of ALA, and then whose plaque build-up in the arteries was measured. The amount of fish consumed did not make a different to plaque build-up in the arteries. Alpha-linolenic acid on the other hand, was proven to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Optibac 'For your cholesterol'

'For your cholesterol' is a natural supplement containing probiotics, and Omega-3 (ALA) to help maintain normal cholesterol levels. 'For your cholesterol' is an extensively researched supplement, safe to take on an ongoing basis and free from the side effects commonly associated with cholesterol-lowering medication.

pack shot 'For your cholesterol'

This FAQ has been answered by Kerry Beeson, BSc (Nut.Med) Nutritional Therapist.


  1.  Zhao et al. (2004) 'Dietary Linolenic Acid Reduces Imflammatory and Lipid Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Hypercholesterolemic Men and Women'. The Journal of Nutrition; 134: 2991-2997
  2. Karvonen et al. (2002) 'Effect of Alpha Linolenic Acid-rich Camelina Sativa Oil on Serum Fatty Acid Composition and Serum Lipids in Hypercholesterolemic Subjects'. Metabolism, Vol 51, No 10 (October ); pp1253-1260.
  3. Goyens PL, Mensink RP. (2006) 'Effects of Alpha Linolenic Acid Versus Those of EPA/DHA on Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Healthy Elderly Subjects'. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 60: 978-984.
  4. Djoussé L et al. (2003) 'Dietary Linolenic Acid and Carotid Atherosclerosis: the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Family Heart Study' , American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 77: 819-25.