Being a consumer isn't easy. And it's not like you can major in it in college (you can major in marketing, but there are no degrees in consumerism).
When you're a consumer, you really have to have your wits about you and be constantly on your guard for slick marketing executives and ad agents who's only purpose in life is to SELL YOU SOMETHING. When you keep your eyes open, you'll see that they're willing to tell you anything to get you to buy, buy, buy.
Let's take flaxseed oil as a perfect example of slick marketing. It's sold as a great source of omega 3 oils, but the truth is it isn't. And I can prove it!
A recent study published in the July 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed what I've been telling people for years about flaxseed oil. And I quote, "Evidence suggests that increased consumption of n-3 FAs [omega 3 fatty acids] from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not of alpha-linolenic acid [flaxseed oil], reduces the rates of all-cause mortality, cardiac and sudden death, and possibly stroke." Pretty convincing!
In spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, a marketer's job is to make flaxseed oil look like a "hero" in your mind and he or she does this with words and mental images. Let's dissect some of their words and mental images of flaxseed oil and see what's behind them.
They'll tell you that flaxseed oil is natural. This might be in that it's not "man-made," but it's not natural to the human food chain. It"s not even considered edible oil for humans by many scientists. Why? Let's keep looking at the marketing.
Why do they call it flaxseed oil when that's not what it was called for centuries? That's right, flaxseed oil has another name.
Traditionally it's been called "linseed oil" and linseed oil is used for thinning paint, polishing furniture and making linoleum flooring (and this is why it's not considered edible by humans!). Marketers knew that you'd never eat the stuff if they called it linseed oil, so they changed the name to flaxseed oil.
In a way, it's like Prego Pasta Sauces. When Campbell's, as in the soup company, came out with their pasta sauce years ago, nobody bought it. The name Campbell's had been associated with soup for so long that most consumers imagined Campbell's Pasta Sauce would be soupy and thin. So they changed the name to Prego and it became a leading brand. Same product, different name.
When you take away the fact that science tells us it's not a good source and that it's not part of the human food chain (it's actually a by-product of the linen industry), what's left to market about it? Nothing really! So marketers sell flaxseed oil by highlighting perceived problems with their competition, which in this case is fish oils.
They'll tell you that there's no fishy after taste with flaxseed oil. Well, fish is fish folks and you have to decide what's more important, your long-term health or the momentary taste of fish.
They'll also say things like fish "may" have heavy metals and toxins which flaxseed oil doesn't. This may be true, especially if you're eating less than desirable fish from a disreputable source. But they obviously don't know every source of fish oil. I personally know of one that is screened for over 160 toxins with a detectable limit of ZERO before the source will be used.
The last two examples are a cheap shot marketing ploy used by companies with NO other merit to their product who want to play on misunderstandings and unfounded fears about fish.
Don't buy it and don't buy flaxseed oil for your health. If you do, you'll only be buying a bottle of slick oily marketing.