By now most of us know we should be incorporating Omega-3 healthy fats into our diets, but how much we need, where do we get it, and what exactly it?
Nutrition can be a tricky topic sometimes. It seems there is always new info coming out and old info being over ruled. I still get confused with all of the do’s and don’t out there.
I just read a few good articles on Omega-3’s, so I thought I’d share some simple tips to help break them down:
What are they?
- Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated type of essential fatty acid, (all this means is that our bodies cannot make them, so we have to obtain them through our diets).
- They are believed to alleviate a variety of health concerns including; heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, auto immune diseases, and many forms of cancer.
What types of Omega 3’s are there?
- There are 3 different types of Omega-3’s; docosahexaenoic (DHA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), & alpha-linlenic acid (ALA).
- DHA & EPA are critical to our bodies and come in ready to use form. When you eat foods containing DHA & EPA your body can put them to work immediately. You can find these mainly in cold-water fish; think wild salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring.
- ALA comes from plant foods like flax, walnuts, and canola oil and must first be converted to EPA & DHA in the body before they can do their Omega-3 thing
Where were Omega-3’s in the past…I don’t ever remember hearing so much about them??
- Back in the day, cattle and chickens would graze on rich sources of Omega-3’s like grass, plants and seeds.
- Today animals are fed grains that do not have the abundant sources of Omegas.
- We no longer get enough Omega’s from eating eggs, milk, poultry and beef and so this is why we need to make the effort to get more (this is also why we are starting to see things like eggs and juice fortified with omega-3).
What about Omega 6 & 9, I hear a lot about these as well?
- Omega 6 – it is an essential fatty acid, just like Omega 3. The major difference though is that Omega 6 is overly abundant in a typical diet where as Omega-3 is not.
- The primary sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oil; these oils should be limited.
- Omega-9 – Is a non-essential fatty acid. Since it is naturally produced in our bodies, it does not need to be supplemented.
The Bottom Line (aka – all you really need to know):
Incorporating more Omega-3’s into our diets is really important.
Good Sources of Omega 3’s include:
- Cold water fish such as; wild salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies.
- Ground flax seeds
- Oils such as; flaxseed oil, olive oil, wheat germ oil, canola oil, and walnut oil (Heating these oils does damage the omega-3’s, so enjoy them drizzled over salads or try finishing dishes off with a drizzle of oil .
- Leafy Green Veggies including; kale, broccoli, lettuce and spinach.
- Legumes such as; peas, pinto, kidney, and navy beans