Review: Barleans

By Adrian Oaks / January 16, 2016

Like many fish oil companies, The Barleans brand started out as a family farm. In 1972 Dave and Barbara Barlean opened a community fishery to cater to the local populace. Dave prided himself on delivering fresh fish to the local markets as quickly as possible, within hours of a catch. This gave him a significant advantage over his competitors, who often offered catches that were days of even weeks old. This turned out to be a highly successful business model, which lead Dave to create a direct to order telemarketing business that alerted customers every time a new catch was coming in.

In 1989 the fishing trade began to decline. This led Dave to seek other avenues of business to support himself and his family. It just so happened that Daves son, Bruce, was a stint press operator in the flax seed industry. Dave and Barbara put their life savings into a new industry, that of commercial flax.

At first, Dave only produced oil for other suppliers. To keep up with demand Dave set his mind to fine tuning many of the processes of the commercial seed industry. He greatly improved the pressing process, which resulted in a product with a more natural taste and reduced spoilage.

Barleans was moderately successful as a supplier, but in 1992 Dave decided he wanted to market directly to consumers and create his own brand. Dave hired a large sales and marketing force to educate consumers and help spread the word about his product. The Barleans brand spread quickly and became highly successful.

Taste & Consistency

Barleans products are notable for there freshness, and of the ones I have tried I have to say that this is true. Flax seed oil goes rancid quickly, however I have yet to receive a bad batch from Barleans. This may come down to personal preference, but to me flax seed oil has a nutty type of taste and I find it goes well with pretty much anything, most notably yogurt or cheese.

As for consistency I find that as long as the product hasn’t sat on a store shelf for prolonged periods or been exposed to high levels of heat than it remains pretty uniform. For flax seed oil it is advisable to pay extra special attention to the manufacture/expiration date since it tends to spoil easily.


Barleans is one of the more potent flax seed oils out there, however when I have taken flax oil by itself I have noticed it takes a while to see any real benefit. This may be due to the fact that ALA converts poorly to DHA and EPA. If you are a taking Barleans by itself than you may want to up the dose a little to ensure you see a benefit from it.

I have noticed that this product improves my cardio workouts a small amount. This may be an effect of the flax lignans. The effects of lignans are still being researched and there is much debate about them, however they are a good source on antioxidants.


Barleans oil comes in at around 20$ a bottle. This is somewhat on the high end for flax seed oil due to ALA oils relative weakness when compared to a equivalent fish oil. I feel the price may be worth it however since flax oil spoils so easily and Barleans places an emphasis on freshness.


One of the major benefits often touted by flax oil enthusiasts is its relative lack of contaminants compared to fish oils. Barleans oils contain no detectable levels of heavy metals, pcbs, furans, or dioxins. This is obviously due to the fact that flax seeds are grown on land and not in the ocean. As stated above the main issue of concern is spoilage. Flax oil that has gone bad will give of a bad odor and more importantly – become oxidized. This effect will occur slowly over time so it is important to choose a supplier that rotates its stock often.

Barleans products also have the distinction of being certified organic. Organic products are GMO and pesticide free. This may explain its slightly higher potency.


Barleans products are a solid product and a decent price. I like the fact that they rotate there products off store shelves every 6 months instead of every year. This is a sign of good quality control that not many competing brands can match. The fact that they use organic flax seed is an added bonus. Those who are especially sensitive toxins or pesticides should give this product a try.

As an aside, we pair up flax oil against fish oil in this write up, and the general consensus is that taking some flax oil along with your normal fish oil can be more beneficial than just sticking to one or the other. If you have never taken fish oil before, check out our homepage for advice and information about the benefits of doing so.