CoThe intake of omega-3s, particularly the long-chain omega-3s found in fish and seafood, has been linked to significant health benefits such as: However, recent national surveys have shown that adults in the United States are consuming significantly less than recommended amounts of seafood and omega-3s.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) with a specific chemical structure that contains a double bond in the third bond of the fatty acid chain. Of the various omega-3 fatty acids, three have been specifically examined for their health effects: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish is a major source of EPA and DHA in the human diet. Many fish feed on phytoplankton, which eats microalgae, the aquatic organisms that produce PUFAs.
Theoretically, the essential fatty acid ALA, which is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds, can be converted into the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA in the liver. For this reason, EPA and DHA are not considered essential to be ingested through food. However, ALA conversion rates are generally below 15%, which increases the need for food sources of EPA and DHA such as fish, seafood, and omega-3 supplements. Some of the more important health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids also come from EPA and DHA as opposed to ALA, so it’s important to make sure these are included in your diet or supplement plan.
Omega-3 benefits include:
• show anti-inflammatory effects
• Improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
• Play a structural role in cell membranes
• Protection against cardiovascular diseases
• Reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia
• Supporting child health and neurological development during pregnancy
Omega-3 food sources:
Foods high in omega-3 include cold water fish, oysters, and offal, which provide EPA and DHA, and flax seeds, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables, and walnuts, which provide ALA.
Food supplements with omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 dietary supplements with EPA and DHA include products made from fish, seafood, and seaweed. These dietary supplements are most commonly found in liquid, soft gel, or capsule forms. Omega-3 supplements can also contain additional ingredients, like other fatty acids and antioxidants like vitamin E, that are used to prevent oxidation (spoilage).
The standard American diet generally contains a ratio of about 15: 1 omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, including cancer and autoimmune, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases has been. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in meat, processed foods, and vegetable oils that are commonly consumed in standard American diets. Along with moderating your intake of omega-6 foods (chicken is high in them), taking omega-3 supplements is an effective way to improve your omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio .
Be sure to source omega-3 supplements that are sourced from small fish and manufacturers who test their samples for low PCB, mercury, and dioxin levels. I like and use Biotics Research because they test theirs for over 400 different contaminants. Work with a doctor to find the right one for you.
January 23rd is my first cooking class of the year – A Day in the Life of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I prepare healthy and tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner and an elixir. See more at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com.