Most of Americans don’t get enough good fat in our diets, especially omega-3s because our diets have really changed over the past few decades. We just don’t consume fish and vegetables like our ancestors did or like other cultures do. Studies show that the Japanese culture consumes more omega-3s because their diets consist of more fish and seaweed. Results from these studies show a lower amount of heart attacks among the Japanese people and is believed it is because of their intake of omega-3s.
Omega-3s can be made up of short-chain and long-chained fatty acids. When we eat short-chain Omega 3s they need to be converted into the long-chain omega-3s in order to produce incredible benefits.
Omega-3 (mainly EFA) deficiency is very common in the United States. Americans just don’t get enough because most of our diets stray so far from healthy. However, most have no problem consuming omega-6s as there are so many sources for us to receive these fatty acids. Most of us get too many as they are so prevalent in they typical American diet. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 (PUFAs) fatty acids help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
A healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It should be our goal to have the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids being 1:1, but it can range between 1:1 and 4:1. However, with most Americans the a ratio between 10:1 and 25:1, which is not healthy. Research shows that too much omega-6s in the diet cause disruption to the body which results in a increased tendency to form blood clots, high blood pressure, inflammation, sterility and cancer. I also can be very irritating to the digestive system and can cause weight gain.
In order to insure we get enough omega-3s daily, we need to eat foods that are rich in omega-3s and an our diets with Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil and Flax seeds.
Foods rich in omega-3s include flaxseeds, salmon and walnuts. Other good sources of these healthy fats are halibut, shrimp, cod, sardines, tuna, scallops, cloves, soybeans (fermented) and tofu. Also, vegetables have a substantial amount of omega-3s including but not limited to Romain, broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.
Healthy sources include seeds, whole grains and numerous plant sources. You can also take supplements Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Seed Oil, both which help with allergies, arthritis, cancer and the ever unpopular PMS. There are many poor choices that carry omega-6s and those are usually in processed foods as well as restaurants and fast food establishments because they use a lot of unhealthy seed and vegetable oils that contain omega-6’s.
Since most of us don’t have a desire to eat fish and walnuts daily, it is a good idea to “supplement” our diets with fish oil, flaxseed oil and flax seeds. Here is a short version of what each of them do.
Fish oil is highly concentrated with long-chained omega-3s. Long-chain omega-3s come in two forms. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA supports the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems while DHA focuses more on brain function. We need both of these along with saturated fats to insure proper usage of DHA and EPA. You should buy pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements because the impurities have been removed.
Flaxseeds contain high concentrations of the shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acids. But as a whole food, it contains a number of other nutrients that are not included in the extracted oil. They are a rich source of fiber and contain minerals such as manganese, copper, and magnesium and vitamins such as folate and vitamin B6. In addition, they contain lignan phytonutrients, which have been found to have hormone-balancing and cardiovascular benefits. You cannot get all of those unique flaxseed benefits unless you crush the seeds enough while chewing or grind them first.
Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of Omega 3’s. Loaded with numerous health benefits including increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and reducing plaque build-up in the arteries. It has been said that Omega-3 acts like a Teflon coating in the arteries, preventing fats form sticking. Most of the omega-3s are concentrated in the brain and it is said to help Alzheimer’s, dementia and other disorders that effect the brain. Omega-3s also help those suffering from arthritis, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and various mood disorders. Omega-3 fats raise metabolism and help the body burn fat more efficiently. These are only a few reasons why it’s great to get in Omega 3’s into your daily diet!
Flaxseed oil contains a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but not DHA or EPA in usable form. In order to get both DHA and EPA, our bodies need to convert the ALA which is a long process and some bodies cannot make this conversion. (studies show that once consumed, between 0.2% to 21% of ALA may be converted into EPA, and up to 9% of ALA is converted into DHA) ALA can be thought of as the initial building block of the omega 3′s and Flaxseed oil contains more ALA than flax seeds.
When you purchase Flax seed oil, it is best to have expeller-pressed and high in lignan because the lignans in the flaxseeds protect us from certain cancers. According to the USDA, flaxseeds contain 27 identifiable anti-cancer agents.