Two in every three Australians don't get enough Omega-3.
That means while you might be okay, those two sitting on either side of you are in a bit of trouble...
With so many 'good fats' on our nutrition hit list it can get confusing to really understand exactly what fat's you need to protect your health.
Firstly, there are two main families of polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6. These fatty acids are not interchangeable and have very different biochemical roles.
Increasing the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet, in particular appears to be an important part of optimizing health. To do this comes down to your nutrition choices first and foremost.
We know that coconut oil does not provide the essential fats we need to optimize health and protect against disease. Avocado doesn't either. And while olive oil is shown in research to provide a number of health benefits - it doesn't provide a plentiful source of the essential fats omega-3 and omega-6 we need in the correct ratio.
Without a doubt, flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) contain a fatty acid profile that is most conducive to correcting omega-3 deficiencies and improving the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in your nutrition plan.
Consume flaxseeds crushed and take the oil as both variations provide unique benefits.
About 100 grams of flaxseeds will provide 35 grams of good oil (essential fats, lecithin and phytosterols), 26 grams of protein and 14 grams of fibre. Flaxseeds are the richest known source of ligans; molecules with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. They are also a rich source of mucilage, which is a special kind of fibre that controls blood sugar and acts as a natural laxative and protects against bowel cancer.
Flaxseeds also contain a rich array of minerals, vitamins E and carotene and the energy-activating B-group vitamins. As you can see, flaxseeds are a pretty useful food.
I recommend the consumption of both crushed flaxseeds and taking the oil. Eating flaxseeds is a better choice nutritionally. However, flaxseed oil provides a whopping 11 grams of omega-3 per 20 ml. No other nutritional source will improve your omega-3 ratio as dramatically as flaxseed oil. It is the most effective way to correct an omega-3 deficiency, which most people have. Crushed flaxseeds (flaxseed meal) can be found in most supermarkets. The oil is found in health food stores, it must be kept refrigerated.
However, most active individuals cannot rely solely on flax to meet all of their omega-3 requirements.
The omega-3 found in plants, nuts and seeds is converted in the body to the 'bioactive' forms called EPA and DHA. You may know of these bioactive omega-3s as they are present in fish oils and marine oil supplements. The enzyme-driven process responsible for synthesizing omega-3 into DHA and EPA declines with age. That’s why a quality source of EPA and DHA are essential.
EPA and DHA are recognized as powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that modulate the body’s production of inflammatory meditators to help protect against (or reduce the risk of) inflammation-related conditions. Inflammatory conditions are also known as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Even too much exercise (with a poor diet) develops an over-training syndrome based on this chronic Inflammation that destroys health.
Once you get over 30 yrs of age, incorporating a fish oil supplement (EPA & DHA) is a great idea. A dose of fish oil that provides two to three grams of EPA & DHA combined is a research-based recommendation. Just remember, popping fish oil capsules won’t solve the chronic omega-3 deficiency that many people have - we need more omega-3 and less omega-6 in the diet first.
The amount of omega-3 incorporated into tissues is not only dose dependent but ratio specific. Omega-3 has to compete with other dietary fats such as omega-6 to become built-in to cell structures, particularly the cellular membrane. The higher the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet means more of is effectively incorporated into tissues.
A lot of good research suggests a ratio of 1:4 (grams of omega-3 to omega-6) is great to aim for. That is, 1 gram of omega-3 for every 4 grams of omega-6 in your nutrition plan. This is in sharp contrast to the 1:25 for the general population and 1:11 documented in health-conscious people.
The brain requires an extraordinarily high amount of omega-3 - an equal ratio (1:1). This imbalance between the omega-6 to omega-3 is linked to the ever-increasing incidence of depression among adults as well as the sharp decline in mental capacity of our older population.
This is why green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds and oil have to be staples in your plan first. Only then will a high potency omega-3 supplement have any impact.
The consumption of flaxseeds and oil will help promote the right omega-6 to 3 ratio in your plan. Additionally, strategic supplementation with marine-oils will ensure more of the bioactive omega-3s, is built into every cell which is essential to down-regulating the chronic cellular inflammation, thought to underline so many unrelated conditions that lead to poor health and results from consistent exercise.
Your Omega-3 Take Home check list
- Consume flax seeds and take the oil as both variations provide unique benefits.
- Green leafy vegetables, good oils have to be a part of your plan before supplementation has an impact
- Once you get over 30 yrs of age, incorporating a fish oil supplement
- A dose that provides two to three grams/day of EPA & DHA combined is a research-based recommendation
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