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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How Omega-3 Can Reduce Health Risks

There are many health problems that could be avoided if we all made sure to eat plenty of foods high in essential fatty acids.  My grandfather on my mom's side has blood pressure problems and my grandfather on my dad's side has had multiple strokes, while my aunt has arthritis; so I found this information amazing!

Essential fatty acids, also known as EFA, vitamin F, or polyunsaturates; are important for improving skin and hair as well as to reduce blood pressure, prevent arthritis, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of blood clot formation; and could help keep postpartum depression in check.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential to human health. I'll break it down a little more for you, so just in case you hear one of these names, you'll know what it means.  Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are under the category of Omega-3 EFA, while arachidonic acid (AA), linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) are under the umbrella of Omega-6.

Essential fatty acids are easily found in fish oil, flaxseeds (both whole and oil), grape seed oil, and walnuts. ALA is found in plant sources, including canola oil, soybean oil, mustard oil and tofu. LA is found in safflower oil, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, pine nuts, corn oil, soybean oil, pecans, Brazil nuts and sesame oil. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat between 5-10% of their daily calories from omega-6 fatty acids. This is easily done, as Omega-6 is found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

GLA is found in plant-based oils, like evening primrose, borage and black currant seed oil.

Then there are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA ) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body is capable of making these essential fatty acids for itself, but it takes a lot of work.

This is why it is easier to absorb these essential fatty acids through animal meat rather than through a plant source. Oily fish such as herring, salmon, sardines, oysters, trout, tuna and crab contain the highest amount of EPA and DHA. The Mayo Clinic recommends an adult with no history of heart disease eat fish twice a week to increase omega-3 intake.

However, if you are a vegetarian, you can easily absorb the right amount of Omega-3 by taking up to one tablespoon of flaxseed oil each day. Be sure not to store the flaxseed oil near a heat source or in room temperature, as this can cause the oil to go bad, so make sure that you store it in the refrigerator.

Arachidonic Acid (AA) is found in meat, poultry and eggs. As long as you ingest 10-20% of your daily recommended 2,000 per day caloric intake in the form of essential fatty acids, you will be up to par.

References:

  • 27 November 2012. http://www.livestrong.com/article/251810-list-of-foods-with-essential-fatty-acids/
  • 4 December 2012. http://www.livestrong.com/article/139110-what-foods-have-essential-fatty-acids/
  • 4 December 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fish-oil/NS_patient-fishoil/DSECTION=dosing
  • 5 December 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/omega-6/AN02030
  • 5 December 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC533861/
  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing 4th edition, c2006, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC pgs: 78-79
  • The Herbal Drugstore, c2000, by Linda B. White, M.D. and Steven Foster pg: 2
If you can't grow it, go organic.  It's always best to buy organic foods.  There are no additives or pesticides and the food hasn't spent it's properties up in order to keep it safe from bugs and disease.  You can find organic foods at Mother's Market, Whole Foods and Sprouts.




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