We often hear “eat your fish, it’s high in omega-3’s” or “add some flaxseed to your food it will give you a dose of omega-6’s.” But how many of us really know what this means?? What is the scoop on these 2 nutrients? Let’s find out!
Omega- 3’s and omega-6’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s). There are many different omega-3’s but the most researched ones are EPA, DHA and ALA. Sometimes, omega-6’s are called LA (linoleic acid) and GLA (gamma linoleic acid). You may also hear them all referred to as essential fatty acids, which means that our bodies cannot make them. Therefore we must get them from the foods we eat or by supplementation. So, why should we pay attention to these two nutrients?
First, with regards to omega-3’s, they may provide many potential health benefits including; cardiovascular protection, slower cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, reduced inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, slowing of age-related macular degeneration a lower risk for depression and overall decreases in inflammation, to name a few. Sources of omega-3’s include flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, herring and chia seeds.
Omega-6’s have their own set of functions including brain maintenance and cellular repair, stimulation of hair and skin growth, preservation of bone and lowering inflammation in chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Omega-6’s are found in sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, canola oils as well as flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that encourages our inclusion of these important nutrients in our diets……but, how do we do it?
When it comes to sourcing both omega-3’s and omega-6’s, we must first understand why keeping them in balance is important. The ideal ratio for omega-6’s to omega-3’s is 2:1. The standard American diet is high in processed foods made with oils containing omega-6’s resulting in significant over-consumption of them and tipping that ratio closer to 10:1! THIS IS NOT GOOD! What does this mean exactly? Overconsumption of Omega-6’s in the form of processed foods creates hostile inflammatory conditions in our bodies that are definitely not wanted. This means focusing on a diet rich in whole foods and keeping processed foods to a minimum.
For many of us, getting these power nutrients from foods alone may not always be possible. Fortunately there are many high-quality omega-3 supplements available including those that we carry here at WWCC. A few tips for choosing a high-quality fish oil include the potency of the oil (the higher the amounts of DHA and EPA the better), that is has been tested for heavy metals, that it is fresh (oils go rancid quickly, check expiration dates), and that the oils come from sustainably-sourced fish. The next time you are in the office as us about:
Omega-6 supplementation by itself is not typically required.If there are reasons for Omega-6 supplementation, it is usually done under a physician’s care.
So what’s left? Eat more sustainably-caught fish and organic flaxseed. Eat less processed foods and trade your sunflower, safflower, cottonseed and canola oils for olive or avocado oils.
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