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Types of Omega-3 Fats

The simplest omega-3 is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is primarily the plant-based polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).

A wide variety of plant foods contain small to moderate amounts of ALA.

  • Flaxseed,
  • chia,
  • hemp,
  • walnuts,
  • spinach,
  • cauliflower,
  • Brussels sprouts,
  • collard greens,
  • mustard seeds,
  • kale,
  • romaine lettuce,
  • summer and winter squash, and
  • raspberries.

are good sources of plant-based ALA. Walnuts, flax seed and oil and, perhaps surprisingly chia stand out as good sources of omega-3s. Chia contains three times more omega-3 than omega-6.

There are basically two important metabolic roles for dietary ALA.

  • The first is, as much as 85 % of our dietary ALA intake is broken down by our body as an energy source for our cells.
  • The other major role for ALA is being the primary building block for the elongated omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.

Very good sources of animal-based ALA include sardines and salmon, tuna, scallops, shrimp, and cod.

 

EPA and DHAare more complicated than ALA; they contain more double bonds in their chemical structure …

  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – has five double bonds
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – has six double bonds

The perception is that fish — particularly the big, over-fished and heavy-metal-rich kind — are the only sources of omega-3s and that we have to abstain from beef and other meats in order to get omega-3s in our diet. This perception is not correct. Here is why…

Although marine animals (fish and krill) are rich sources of EPA and DHA, they do not produce these omega-3 fatty acids themselves. All marine animals receive omega-3 fatty acids from grass — that is, sea grass, algae, other sea vegetables and plankton. They ingest and accumulate omega-3 fatty acids as nutrient dense food through the food chain from algae and phytoplankton, the primary producers of marine omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, wakame, a seaweed popular in Japanese cuisine, is the highest vegetable source of omega-3s. Wakame has an omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio of about 1 to 18.

As a result of sea-grass-heavy diet, oily fish such as sardines and anchovies as well as the fish that eat them, such as mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna; besides salmon and lake trout have the highest amounts of the two healthiest forms of omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). For fish lovers, sardines offer among the highest levels of DHA and EPA with the least toxins or worry of over fishing.

While many fish, pound for pound, are the best source of the healthiest omega-3s, any animal that eats grass has also omega-3s. In particular, meat from pasture-fed lambs contains relatively high amounts of both EPA and DHA, while meat from pasture-fed cattle contains good amounts of both EPA and DHA . Being a non-American industry, lamb is almost entirely pasture-raised, and thus has decent amounts of omega-3.

 

The reason why industrially raised beef, chicken, and pork are so devoid of omega-3 is because these animals are fed with a corn based factory diet. Corn is a very poor source of omega-3s. Corn oil, for example, has an omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio of about 45 to 1. As a result of an unnatural lot-feed diet of cheap corn, industrially raised cows have very little omega-3s in their milk, cheese or meat. Milk, cheese, whole fat Turkish yogurt and meat from grass-fed cattle, and free range eggs are nowadays common, particularly at farmers’ markets. Chickens permitted to scratch for grass, seeds and insects produce eggs rich in DHA and contain some amount of both EPA. Some grass-feed cattle have up to 1-to-1 omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio.

Agribusiness, of course, is hearing all this clamor about healthy fats. Its solution has been to feed animals fish meal, which for now seems to have no ill consequences.

 

Most of the health benefits linked to omega-3 fats are linked to the animal-based EPA and DHANOT the purely plant-based ALA.

In a large number of research studies, there are clear health benefits provided by EPA and DHA that are not provided by ALA. These health benefits involve support of many body systems and decreased risk of many chronic diseases.

Our …

  • immune system,
  • inflammatory system,
  • cardiovascular system, and
  • nervous system …

simply cannot function correctly without sufficient amounts of EPA and DHA. Please take your time to read more fascinating in debt information right here.

 

Our body’s ability to make EPA and DHA from ALA

Under the right circumstances, our body transforms ALA into other omega-3s, EPA and DHA.

Consumption of plant-based ALA does not present significant health benefits.

Even if we consume large amounts of ALA, our body converts plant-based ALA into EPA and DHA at a “very low ratio,” and only when there is a satisfactory supply of enzymes;

  • vitamin B3,
  • vitamin B6,
  • vitamin C, and
  • mineral zinc, and
  • mineral magnesium.

Our body converts plant-based ALA into EPA and DHA at a very low ratio, and only when there are sufficient enzymes (amino acids – Braggs Coconut Aminos are a good source for healthy enzymes). If we are deficient in one or more of these nutrients, our body may not be able to produce optimal amounts of EPA and DHA, even when our ALA intake is sufficient.

Our body’s ability to make EPA and DHA from ALA depends partly on the other types of fat that we eat. One of those other fat types is omega-6 fat which are more plentiful in foods than omega-3 fats. Because they are more plentiful, we often find ourselves consuming much more of them. Yet high consumption of omega-6 fats can directly reduce the amount of ALA that our body converts into EPA and DHA.

Across the US word has spread of the health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids. They lower the risk of heart disease, help clear up varicose veins, boost brain power, beat back depression, and so on. The beef-and-pork-themed American diet is however high in omega-6 fatty acids. Although omega-6s are essential for health, Americans consume too much of it. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be about 4 to 1. Today that ratio has been distorted to about 20 to 1.

And we all need to be little careful because this is all about ratio. Otherwise, too many omega-3s, like a blood thinner, can lead to hemorrhagic stroke.

 

 

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