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Omega 3 – The Fat We Should Eat

Posted by terrepruitt on September 1, 2011

I have mentioned Omega 3 before, but I haven’t said a lot about it.  I thought sharing a few things about it would be nice.  Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid required by the body.  “Essential” means that our body must have it but can’t make it so we need to obtain the nutrient from our diet.  Since our cell membranes are made up of fatty acids it makes sense that our body needs fatty acids to function properly.  The key is making sure our bodies have the right kind of fat.  Omega 3 contains three fatty acids, a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and is considered a polyunsaturated fat.  Polyunsaturated fat, unlike saturated fat, does not harden at room temperature.  Wanting a fat that makes up cell membranes that does not harden is another thing that makes sense, right?  Nutrients and waste have an easier time passing in and out of a cell membrane with a liquid consistency than one that is solid.

Research has been done in regards to Omega 3 on diseases and ailments with varied results.  Studies continue to reveal Omega 3 helps reduce heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation.  We know chronic inflammation is not good because it is linked with or even thought to be the cause of many diseases.   Omega 3 could help with autoimmune diseases of which inflammation is present such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes.   With many diseases there is often multiple issues so it makes sense that if something helps with one thing it might help with another if it is a symptom or a result of a disease.  For instance, many people with diabetes have high cholesterol so, if Omega 3 helps lower the LDL and raise the HDL, that would be of assistance to someone with diabetes.  Science is continuing to discover things about Omega 3 and how each fatty acid has different effects on the body.

Omega 3 is interesting in that one of the three ALA is actually not used by the body until it is converted to the other two.  Some foods contain ALA, some contain EPA, and others contain DHA or a combination of them.  So as always recommended it is good to eat a variety of foods.  Eating a variety of foods containing Omega 3 will help ensure you get what you need.  Some of the food Omega 3 can be found in is cold water fish, flax seed, walnuts, and what some are calling “Omega 3 eggs”.  At present there is not a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Omega 3, but the consensus is that Americans should be eating more.

According to a the World’s Healthiest Foods website:  “the National Institutes of Health recommended that people consume at least 2% of their total daily calories as omega-3 fats.”

You might have heard the claim that Canola Oil is a good source of Omega 3, but then you might have also heard the processing the rapeseed plant goes through and the way the oil is made actually burns off the Omega 3 and becomes transfat.  This is one of those things you might want to research and decide for yourself.  It is your health.

Other foods containing Omega 3: beans, olive oil, hemp seeds, kale, collard greens, spinach, soybeans, cloves, oregano, green beans — yay, not just fish!  I am not a fan of fish although, the Omega 3 in fish is hard to beat, so I probably should start eating it.

Like so many nutrients being discovered as being necessary almost everyday it seems as if the best way to get what the body needs is to eat a variety of foods.  The less we eat of over-processes and packaged foods the better.  Finding a balance is also important.  It just really sounds as if, from all the information I have read, Americans consume less Omega 3 than we should, so — to me — it sounds good to add more to my diet.  What about you?  Are there ways you can add more healthy foods that contain Omega 3 into your diet?

2 Responses to “Omega 3 – The Fat We Should Eat”

  1. niachick said

    My husband and I follow the way of the Weston A Price Foundation. They run pretty counterintuitive to any of the government regulated/sanctioned information that’s out there on good fats/bad fats, cholesterol, etc. For instance did you know that cholesterol is needed for memory? The AMA has been so deliberate about it’s claims that lowering cholesterol is necessary — to the point that people take drugs rather than finding the right kinds of foods/exercise to maintain healthy cholesterol. I have to stop and consider whether the the increase in the cases of Alzheimers is directly related to the fear mongering about lowering cholesterol. I’m not a very big proponent of following anything mandated by the government when it comes to what I put it my body or what I need to remove from it. I listen to my body…something I’ve learned to appreciate more deeply as my relationship with Nia has expanded.

    I do appreciate this blog — particularly around the necessity for Omega 3. We get our Omega 3 from Cod Liver Oil capsules (high in Vitamin D which is necessary, too). You always bring things to light in so many aspects of life for folks who might not otherwise take the opportunity to hear or read about.

    Thanks, as always, Terre.


    • I knew that cholesterol is needed for memory, but I forgot . . . just kidding. What I find is that PEOPLE, want to take drugs instead of finding the right foods and instead of exercising. It is my opinion that since medicines are a big business then the companies just go along with it, but I really know a lot of people who find it much easier to pop a pill to correct what is wrong with them then to fuel their body as needed . . . and the really sad thing is, is it doesn’t actually CORRECT the issue it just masks it, by possibly relieving the symtom. So I personally wouldn’t blame the American Medical Association, before I point out that PEOPLE, the public, actually WANT the easy way out. And cholesterol does clog arteries so it is kind of a concern.

      I would imagine that many of the health issues facing Americans today cannot really be pinpointed to ONE thing. I believe it is a combination of things. Things being the American Diet, along with the American Way of life. High stress, not enough relaxation, not enough spiritualness, not enough exercise, TV, microwaves, ALL of the electronics we have buzzing around us all the time. And the list goes on. Unfortunately I don’t know it is ONE thing. I think it is a combination.

      And in this case you are perfect if you don’t want to follow the goverment recommendation on Omega 3 because they don’t really have one. At least they don’t have an RDA. It is health experts, doctors, and researchers that are explaining the benefits of Omega 3. I really think that balance is the key. But in America we don’t usually do things “balanced” we go big. I know I struggle with balance.

      I think getting Omega 3 fatty acids from different sources is the key because each source contains different levels of the three so it is good to balance it. I really ought to try fish more often. Maybe I would get used to it.

      Thank you for your comments. XO


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