Monday, September 20, 2010

Camelina, A 'New' Healthy Old Food Oil

I came across this oil in a newsletter from, and of course had to research it a bit. The oil is pressed from Camelina Sativa seeds and has been around for about 3,000 years as an oil crop for edible oils, also used as lamp oil by the Romans, and feedstocks. Camelina sativa, commonly known in English as camelina, gold-of-pleasure, or false flax, also occasionally wild flax, linseed dodder, German sesame, and Siberian oilseed, is a flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family which includes mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. It is native to Northern Europe and to Central Asian areas, but has recently been introduced to North America, possibly as a weed in flax.

The crop is now being researched due to its exceptionally high levels (up to 45%) of omega-3 fatty acids, which is uncommon in vegetable sources. Over 50% of the fatty acids in cold pressed Camelina oil are polyunsaturated. The major components are alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3-fatty acid, approx 35-45%) and linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid, approx 15-20%) so there is a decent ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The oil is also very rich in natural antioxidants, such as tocopherols, making this highly stable oil very resistant to oxidation and rancidity. It is more shelf-stable than flaxseed oil (and comparable in Omega-3) and the organic, cold-pressed oils are about the same price for each one.

The vitamin E content of camelina oil is approximately 110 mg/100g. It is well suited for use as a cooking oil but because of the expense, better used as a salad oil. It has a delicious nutty flavor like almonds, and a delightful floral aroma. (It may become more commonly known and become an important food oil for the future as more is grown and the price decreases.) The oil is also sought-after as a beauty treatment, and is even being examined as a source of biofuel.

Camelina should be a grower's delight! It needs little water or nitrogen to flourish, it can be grown on marginal agricultural lands, and does not compete with food crops. It can be used as a rotation crop for wheat to increase the health of the soil and some growers plant it mixed with other grain crops, requiring only mechanical separation of seed at harvest.

Sources for purchase:


  1. I'd never heard of it. Thanks so much. I'm off to research it.

  2. It does look like an interesting (and healthy) oil, doesn't it? Let me know if you find out anything detrimental, please?


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