What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear the term Omega 3? Is it Eggs? Nutrition? Fat? Do you immediately make the connection to better health and wellness? Or does the term ring hollow and with any lack of meaning? Well, we are here to tell you everything you don’t know about Omega 3 and its benefits. Because as it turns out, Omega 3 is something that you need in your diet. It can make drastic differences in your health and physical wellness. So, let’s get started!
When it comes to Omega 3 fatty acids, we are talking about healthy fats. Yes, fats are healthy! Well, some of them anyway. The trick is to understand which ones are and which ones to avoid. But for now, let’s focus on the ones that we do need.
Polyunsaturated fats: The differences between Omega 3 and Omega 6
Polyunsaturated fats are a great source of good fats-providing that you are consuming the appropriate amounts of each one. Because, as it turns out, …not all polyunsaturated fats are created equal.
Polyunsaturated fats include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and it’s essential to understand the distinctions between them. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation and support healthy hormone levels and cell membranes. These guys are good fats! Omega 6 are fatty acids that are important to help support healthy brain and muscle function. However, the downside to their essential function is that they can also promote inflammation in the body if consumed in extra high amounts. This is why we only need a small amount of Omega 6 fatty acids in our diet. Good fats but only in small quantities!
Now because nothing is easy and we are trying to counteract years of misinformation, we must deal with the following fact. The Western diet, for the most part, is, unfortunately, overflowing with Omega 6 fatty acids! They are found in a lot of baked goods and pre-packaged foods.
Anything that has corn or soybean oil are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, and it’s best to stay away from these. These oils contain a manufactured substance called partially hydrogenated oil-known for contributing to heart disease and even cancer.
Natural sources of Omega 6 fatty acids are good for you in small amounts. These can be found in foods such as poultry, eggs, nuts as well some cereals and whole-grain bread.
So, remember…Omega 3 is better than Omega 6-although Omega 6 when sourced from natural, not fabricated products, also has its benefits. Overall though, we want to counteract the inflammatory effects of the Omega 6’s. And to do this, we want to consume even more of the Omega 3’s. Because these are the fatty acids that can help to reduce the risks of disease.
So, what is it that makes Omega 3 fats so unique? Well, it’s due to the cell membranes and their functions and receptors. They are what make your blood clot; they ensure the contraction and relaxation of the artery walls and inflammation. They also lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function. This is why Omega 3 has been proven to help prevent heart disease and have essential roles in the prevention of cancer and other terminal diseases.
There are three primary sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Fish or marine Omega 3’s
- ALA -the most common Omega 3’s that are found in vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and it’s oil, leafy vegetables and in some grass-fed animal products.
Foods such as the following can help to increase your Omega-3 intake:
Fish: Providing the fish that you are eating is wild-caught, organic fish, current dietary guidelines recommend that you include seafood in your diet, twice per week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are ones like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and certain species of trout.
Walnuts: Walnuts are an excellent plant-based source of Omega-3. It’s easy to eat them natural or add them to yogurts, cereals, home-baked or organic muffins, and bread. Even salads can benefit from a few walnuts sprinkled on top
Oils: This one can be a significant change for many people, but it is an incredibly healthy one. Replacing solid fats such as butter or margarine with clean oils when cooking, baking, and even when sautéing or stir-frying.
Flaxseed: First of all, it’s important to note that the human body cannot break down whole flaxseeds. They must be ground up for the body to be able to access the omega-3 fatty acids. Once ground, adding flaxseed to baked goods, cereals, casseroles, salad dressing, and grains all work very well. Flaxseed also comes in an oil that can be used in multiple ways.
Eggs: You have no doubt seen the words “A great source of Omega-3’s” written all over the egg cartons at the grocery store. What does this mean exactly? Well, some chickens are given a special feed that is high in Omega-3s, so their eggs will contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label to see what yours indicates.
Other than heart disease, there are also many other reasons that Omega 3’s are beneficial to your health. Here is a comprehensive list that covers many areas of the physical body as well as the mental and emotional needs of every human.
- Omega 3’s can help to fight anxiety and depression.
There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. It has even been found that EPA is as effective as anti-depressant drugs.
- Omega 3’s can improve eye health.
DHA is a type of Omega 3 and a significant component of the retina. When you get enough of it, eye health is compromised and can cause vision impairment and even blindness.
- Omega 3’s can help provide brain health and development in pregnancy and infancy.
So much so that it has been proven that babies who get more Omega 3 in the womb and after birth have the following:
- Higher intelligence
- Better communication and social skills
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Decreased risk of developmental delay
- Decreased risk of ADHD, autism and cerebral palsy
- Omega 3’s can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children.
This is a prevalent disorder that seems to have increased exponentially in the last decade. However, it has been noted that Omega 3’s help children improve their attention spans and complete tasks as directed. It also decreases impulsiveness, restlessness, and aggression.
- Omega 3’s can also fight auto-immune diseases.
In autoimmune diseases, the body mistakes healthy cells for foreign ones and begins to attack itself. Omega 3’s have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of these diseases and even keep them at bay when ingested regularly early on in life.
- Omega 3’s can even fight mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s
Supplements and foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids can help keep symptoms of aging brain function minimized.
And these are just some of the reasons! The reality is that no matter what type of diet you choose to follow. Be it omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, keto, or otherwise-including Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is crucial for good health and long disease-free life!
Finally, a discussion about Omega 3’s wouldn’t be complete without discussing the topic of eggs. This is because the egg industry has created a new type of egg-one that is fortified with omega 3’s. At first glance, this sounds like a great idea. That is until you realize that eggs aren’t supposed to have this compound. And when they do…it’s because the farmers have fortified them. Hens produce Omega-3 eggs fed a diet containing flaxseed. When the hens digest the flax, some of the ALA gets broken down into DHA, and both fatty acids transfer to the yolk.
Eggs are often fortified with two different omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and ALA. Now, DHA is found in oily fish like salmon, trout, and sardines. It's crucial for the proper development and maintenance of brain cells. So not just eat these foods instead of feeding the hens flaxseed? Now you may say that you don’t eat fish and that’s okay too, however…ALA is plentiful in flaxseed, flax oil, chia seeds, hemp oil, walnuts, and walnut oil. It's also found in canola oil and soybeans. So, the reality is that eggs can remain eggs, and Omega 3’s can remain in the foods where they naturally occur. Not that fortified eggs are bad for your health, but many people in the health and wellness industry believe that foods are most healthy in their natural state. Again, this is something worth considering when you examine your diet.
When it comes down to it, Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for good health for all the reasons we mentioned above and many more. So, clear your pantry of processed goods and restock with things like flaxseeds, walnuts, and healthy oils. The same goes for the fridge! Start getting those leafy greens, fish, and grass-fed animal meats in there!