Omega Threes – Miracle Nutrient

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are one the miracle nutrients responsible for a myriad of health benefits – enhanced immunity, hormone balance, boosting metabolism and vital to a healthy nervous system, to name but a few.  As a Nutrition Consultant, I also know that Omega 3's provide an anti-inflammatory benefit, as opposed to the inflammatory effects of Omega 6 fatty acids.  Unfortunately, our North American diet is out of balance. It contains far too much Omega 6 (from vegetable oils in salad dressings, bread, crackers, cookies, chips and frozen foods) and far too little Omega 3.  Is it any wonder that so many people suffer from inflammatory conditions like arthritis? Hormone imbalances like PMS and menopausal problems? and immune system disorders like Crohns?  This is why it is essential to our long term health to correct our fatty acid imbalance by seeking out good dietary sources of Omega 3's.  But (there always seems to be a “but”) the best dietary sources of Omega 3's also carry some controversy.  Not all sources of Omega 3 are actually the health saviour that we imagine. 

 

Fish is a good source of Omega 3's, BUT many fish carry dangerous levels of mercury, a heavy metal that harms health in many ways. The solution?  Eat small fish like sardines and anchovies.  Of medium sized fish, pacific salmon is the least likely to contain mercury, according to a recent study.

 

Nuts (walnuts and almonds) have Omega 3, among other nutrients like minerals and protein, BUT most people eat nuts and seeds after they have been roasted.  Roasting damages fats making them a detriment to health. The solution?  Eat RAW nuts. 

 

Seeds such as flax, hemp and pumpkin are high in Omega 3. Flax seeds are particularly problematic because they are easily damaged by heat and light.  These seeds and the oil from them are best when refrigerated and, left in the seed form.  Flax in particular can be easily damaged when baked in breads and crackers. Any health benefits of the flax are lost.  The solution?  Consume these seeds in their natural state and avoid cooking with them.

 

Dark green leafy vegetables also contain Omega 3 in small quantities.  Thankfully, there is no down side to enjoying a large daily does of these vegetables.

 

Increasing Omega 3's in our diets is essential to good health, but it requires some attention to the source, processing and cooking of these fragile fats to ensure that we receive their promised health benefits.

 

References:

"Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill,"  Udo Erasmus, PhD.  

"Food and Healing"  Annemarie Colbin