Friday, February 13, 2009

Barlean's Total Omega Vegan Swirl

Barlean's is well known for their flax oil and fish oil supplements. Last year, they launched their Omega Swirl line - smoothie-like liquids that are great for people who don't want to swallow bulky pills or choke down a spoonful of oily, fishy-tasting nastiness. There was a fish oil Omega Swirl to provide brain-healthy* DHA and a vegetarian flax oil Swirl for those who want omega-3's without the fish. But flax oil does not contain DHA, and individuals' ability to convert flax omega-3's to DHA varies greatly, so some felt that fish oil was a better supplement.

Fish get their DHA from the algae they eat, and now we can too. Vegetarian DHA is isolated from algae, and since it doesn't come from fish, it is less likely to contain certain environmental contaminants that fish can concentrate. Barlean's Total Omega Vegan Swirl contains flaxseed oil for essential omega-3's and lignans, borage oil for GLA, and algal oil for DHA. Check out the Barlean's web site for more information.

Does it taste good? In one word, yes. Even my 9-year-old son liked it, and given that he complains loudly every time I try to give him any other liquid omega-3 supplement, that is a victory.

The flavor is pomegranate/blueberry, but I don't think it tastes particularly strongly of either - I would call it more of a "mixed berry" flavor. It's sweetened with xylitol, a natural sweetener that is low in calories and used in chewing gum as an alternative to sugar that doesn't promote tooth decay. The texture of Omega Swirl is thick and smooth, and not oily at all. Sometimes flax oil tastes fishy to me, but this is not at all fishy. In a nutshell, I don't have to think of creative ways to hide the flavor of this omega-3 liquid in cereal or yogurt or pasta sauce... it's good to go just as it is.

I did want to mention one important thing about Omega Swirl. The package information warns not to feed it to your pets. This is because of the xylitol used to sweeten it. Xylitol has been shown to be harmful to dogs, and even a small amount can rapidly bring their blood sugar dangerously low and potentially result in death. Dog metabolism is very different from that of humans: chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, and other human foods are toxic to dogs as well.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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