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Omega-3s

Lindsay has apparently been dreading this post, and I should have realized it since she doesn’t like fish…  Luckily there are other ways to get omega-3s.  They are most easily absorbed and used in the body in the form they are found in fish, but our bodies can convert omega-3s in flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts into these beneficial fats.  Some people may not convert the plant form of omega-3s very efficiently however.   

Essential fatty acids are fats that cannot be manufactured by our body from other materials, unlike other fats.  Instead, these fats must be present in our diet for our bodies to function properly.  The other essential fatty acid is omega-6 fatty acid, and both are important and considered heart-healthy fats, unlike saturated and trans fats.

First a warning:  If you are planning on supplementing your diet with omega-3 supplements, please talk to your doctor first, as fish oil supplements can interact with some drugs, and may cause unwanted blood thinning in some people.

Omega-3s and The Brain

Omega-3s are essential to proper brain function and in regulating mood.  In fact, several studies have shown supplementing the diet with omega-3s reduced depression even in people who were not helped by common antidepressant medication.  And, babies that do not receive enough omega-3s in the diet are at risk for vision problems, and those who have been supplemented with them have been shown to have increased cognitive ability.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, and may help children with ADHD as well.

Omega-3s and the Heart

Omega-3s have also been shown to improve heart health, lower blood pressure, lower  blood triglycerides, and  help prevent arteriosclerosis.  Higher levels of omega-3s are associated with lower risk of heart attack and stroke.  Eating more than 3 servings of fish a day, or taking large amounts of omega-3 supplements does increase one’s risk for bleeding and stroke due to hemorrhages, so caution is warranted, but adding more fish, or plant forms of omega-3 to the diet is a good way to reduce risk of heart disease.  

Omega-3s and Inflammation

You may have also heard that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with decreased inflammation, and omega-6 fatty acids are associated with inflammation.  Both types are important to our body, but in the Western diet the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is heavily skewed towards the omega-6 fatty acids, which some contribute to our high levels of inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases here.  In fact, in some studies supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids have helped those with rheumatoid arthritis reduce their medications.  Omega-3s have also been found to be beneficial in some people with asthma.

Food Sources of Omega-3s

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Chiaseeds
  • Soy / Tofu
  • Salmon
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cod, Halibut, Tuna

 

Lindsay’s Recipes

Like I said, Lindsay has been dreading this post because she doesn’t like fish, but I think she’s done a pretty good job here of getting more omega-3s into recipes I never would have considered.  Adding flax seeds to nachos is a great idea to get a few more omega-3s and one kids may not even notice.

Nachos with Flax Seeds

This recipe has 634 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids.  You can find Lindsay’s recipe here:  http://www.thetravelingzipperhead.com/?p=491

photo (1)
 
 
NutritionLabel - Nachos

Salmon Salad

This recipe has 2804 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids.  You can find Lindsay’s recipe here:  http://www.thetravelingzipperhead.com/?p=491

Salmon Salad  
NutritionLabel - Salmon Salad
 
Tuna Salad with Walnuts
This recipe has 1961 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids.  You can find Lindsay’s recipe here: http://www.thetravelingzipperhead.com/?p=491

Tuna

 NutritionLabel - Tuna

Smoothie with Flax Seed

This recipe has 1961 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids.  You can find Lindsay’s recipe here: http://www.thetravelingzipperhead.com/?p=491

Smoothie

NutritionLabel - Smoothie

References:

http://www.parenting.com/article/should-babies-eat-fish

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100621111238.htm

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids

http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet

Trackbacks

  1. […] This week, Stephanie and I are tackling a topic I’ve dreaded, omega 3s. I don’t specifically have anything against the little buggers, truly, it’s just that the primary ways of getting them is by eating fish. And I hate fish. I mean I HAAAAAAATE fish. I don’t know if I’ve told you about the diving chicken story, but my parents have been trying to get me to eat fish for years and I flat out refuse. The only exception I make is sushi. Yeah I know, I’m weird like that, but it’s a textural thing as well as a flavor thing. I’m convinced that 99% of the draw to sushi for me is the wasabi. Anyway, I really hate fish, and Stephanie keeps trying to make me eat it because its good for you or something. […]

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