Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
The types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – are the ones you’ve likely heard are particularly good for your cardiovascular system (and they have other well-noted health benefits).
The type of omega’s found in walnuts – and other plant food such as hempseed, flaxseed and chia seeds – are alpha-linolenic acid. ALA rich foods are good for you too! Many studies have shown that people who consume sufficient amounts of ALA levels tend to have lower levels of inflammatory chemicals in their system.
So what’s the best/easiest way to get both of these important and essential nutrients into your diet?
Get the most out of plant sources:
- Make sure your nuts and seeds are raw, nothing roasted, toasted, salted or flavoured.
- Store them in the fridge or freezer in glass jars, because their high fat content they can go rancid quickly especially, if they are exposed to too much heat or light.
- Add them to salads, coconut yogurt, have a small serving 1/4 cup as a snack with fresh fruit, toss on pasta or over your cereal or oatmeal.
- No peanuts (which are actually a legume) – they are high in inflammatory promoting fats and they are an alfa-toxin, a mold and a fungi. Yes, that means cut down on your peanut butter too.
- Try out the oil form of these nuts and seeds – hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil – DO NOT heat them as these oils become denatured by extreme heat. Consume them raw, by using them to make dressings or drizzle them over top of some roasted veggies, add fresh herbs, toss and enjoy!
Get the most out of your fish sources:
- Omega 3 rich fish to include; Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines & Herring (remember acronym S.M.A.S.H)
- Always source wild and local fish
- If you are not a fish lover, no worries…you can take them in a supplement form. They are many options between gel caps and liquid. I like Nordic Naturals, Nutra Sea and Udo’s oil.
- If you are unsure of which supplement to try visit local health food stores such as Nature’s Emporium or Ambrosia; their staff is very knowledgable and often times have sample sizes of these products so you can try before you buy!
Why are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) so important?
There are many biological processes that EFA’s are needed for but some of the most notable are control inflammation, moisturizing the body from the inside out, keeping hair and skin healthy, shiny and supple, strengthening your nails and helping you to functioning more optimally at a cognitive level. They also help to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and possibly even to lower blood pressure and provide some protection against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. There is also some evidence to suggest that a lack of EFAs might be a factor in causing some illnesses, one of which is osteoporosis.
Everyone, even children and the elderly, active and inactive should be taking a daily form of essential fatty acids. If you are not sure where to start or how much you as an individual require, consult with a qualified Nutritionist or Naturopath in your area to find out.
Sources to check out:
- Fish Oil: http://examine.com/supplements/Fish+Oil/
- Scientific Review of Fish Oil: http://examine.com/supplements/Fish+Oil/#scientific-research
- More about ALA, plant based Omega 3: http://examine.com/nutrition/can-i-eat-flax-seeds-instead-of-fish-or-fish-oil-for-omega-3s/