Omega 3 fatty acids
What are Omega 3 fatty acids and why are they good for you?
These types of fats are called polyunsaturated fats. One popular form of polyunsaturated fats is found in cooking oil such as olive oil.
While vegetable oils and margarines are high in polyunsaturated fats they don't contain omega 3 fatty acids, also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
These fatty acids are considered essential because they're important building blocks for every cell in your body. Your body can't produce these special fats so you must get them from your diet.
Alpha Linolenic acid (ALA) - found in flax seeds, walnuts, soy beans
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - found in fish and fish oils, krill oil
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - found in fish and fish oils, krill oil
These particular fatty acids help your body produce chemicals called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are hormone-like substances that can have a positive effect on your heart rate, lower high blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol.
Studies have also shown benefits from taking fish oil during pregnancy; including improvements in eye/hand coordination and enhancing retinal health in infants.
Help control your blood pressure.
Boost your immune system to help your body fight infections.
Regulates your body's temperature.
Affects inflammation levels in your body.
Prevent blood clots reducing your risk for stroke or heart attack.
Reduce triglycerides levels in your blood lowering your risk for heart disease.
Help improve mood and learning function in young children.
May help boost your metabolism and burn fat more efficiently.
Even food manufacturers are starting to sit up and notice these health benefits. You can now buy infant formulas fortified with omega 3 fats. It's pretty common to find yogurt and cheeses with omega 3's added to them. Chickens fed a diet high in omega 3's (from flaxseeds) increase the omega 3 content in their eggs.
Are you balanced
It's important to eat a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in your diet.
Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential fatty acids; however, certain kinds may promote inflammation in your body.
Scientists now believe maintaining a proper ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is even more important for optimal health. This is similar to striving for a healthy ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol for good heart health.
Our North American diet is rich in omega 6, so we don't have to worry about being deficient. You can find omega 6 fats in meats, some vegetable oils, margarine, processed foods and baked goods.
Experts believe we're getting too many omega 6's and not enough omega 3's in our diets. A healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is about 4:1. Some nutritionists believe it should be a 1:1 ratio - equal parts omega 3 to omega 6.
Unfortunately, our Western diet of fast foods, processed foods, and cooking with vegetable oils could place our ratio as high as 30:1. Doctors believe this imbalance of omega 3 to omega 6 can cause a high number of inflammatory-type problems, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
Supplementing your diet with more omega 3 fatty acids can help enhance your health and wellness by optimizing your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats.
Here's how to increase your omega 3 intake:
Eating mackerel, sardines, salmon and lake trout will give you a good source of omega 3's. Haddock, cod and tuna also have omega 3 fatty acids at lower amounts.
Pharmaceutical Fish Oil
If you're concerned about mercury in fish you can use pharmaceutical-grade fish oils. These highly purified oils are free of mercury, PCB's and other contaminants found in store bought fish.
If you can't eat fish or fish oils, you can use ground flaxseeds or flax oils.
Flaxseeds supply alpha linolenic acid, another type of omega 3. Your body takes the alpha linolenic acid and converts it into EPA and DHA.
However, the conversion process from ALA to EPA and DHA isn't exactly perfect. Research shows you can only convert about 6 - 8% EPA from ALA. If you're not sure which oil to use, here's some helpful information comparing fish oils vs. flaxseed oil.
Optimizing you intake of omega 3 fatty acids may have tremendous health benefits. The good thing is they're 100% natural and offer you tremendous health benefits your body will love.
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