There’s a big difference between Omega 3 and Omega 6. Here’s what you need to know in order to maintain optimum wellness.
These fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat most commonly found in nuts, vegetable oils and seeds. When eaten within a moderate range (5 – 10% of our diet) they can be excellent for your heart.
Replacing saturated fats from foods such as meat, butter, cheese and pastries with plant-based foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids, including vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, will help you achieve the AHA recommendations.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t do this. Instead of having a 1 to 1 ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3, (more on Omega 3 below) it’s not uncommon for people to have a ratio of 50 to 1. It’s this very ratio that is contributing to the health issues in our society today, including: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and cancer.
Omega-3 fats are acquired from both animal and plant sources, but there is a lot of confusion when it comes to what type you should take to get the best omega-3 benefits.
Marine animals such as fish and krill provide eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are mostly promoted for their protective effects on your heart. Flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, on the other hand, offer alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
Researchers suggest that the animal based variety is the most helpful. You need to be careful, however, not to have too much. It’s important to assess how much actual fish you eat before taking additional supplements.
Tips for Omega 3 Supplements
- Assess your current fish intake. (3-1/2 to 4-ounce servings, 2 to 3 times a week is optimal.) The fish highest in Omega 3 include: salmon, sardines, herring, and trout.
- Assess your current walnut and flaxseed intake. If you eat nuts regularly, you are likely meeting your standard. (Note: Nuts have a lot of calories, so manage your nut portions. Gaining weight isn’t great for your heart, either!)
- If you’re not eating fish or nuts, read the fine print on fish oil bottles. (Note: Focus on the Nutrition Facts on the bottle. It’s best to scroll down the label until you see “Omega 3″ or “EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).” These are the specific strands of omega-3 oils you want to be taking.)
Benefits of Omega-3
- Heart Health: An Italian study featuring 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month. Cholesterol triglyceride levels are lowered. Both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this. According to a study comparing the efficiency of krill and fish oils in reducing triglyceride levels,both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but krill had a more pronounced effects, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.
- Learning: A 2013 study linked low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children. In another study it showed that children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.
- Behavior: Previous research also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior or learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels.
- Overall Brain Health: EPA and DHA keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increase neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain, and increase cerebral circulation.
- Bowel Disorders: It can save children going through SBS (short bowel syndrome) which occurs when a portion of the intestine fails to develop or due to an infectious inflammatory disease striking premature newborns. In adults, it can be caused by surgery for Crohn’s disease or injury.
What to Note about Omega 3
Too much Omega 3 can cause blood thinning. It’s always good to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking these, especially if you are taking other medications.
Spend a Bit More for A Good Grade of Oil
It’s better to spend a bit more for high grade fish oil than to go with a low grade substitute. Do your homework by visiting a local health food store and talk to someone. This is an oil that can have life altering effects on your health when used properly.
by Andrea Frazer for SimpleRx
Andrea Frazer is a writer, wife, mom to two Tweens and a rescue dog. Check back for more of her posts and tips on healthy living, healthcare awareness as well as the latest news and ways to benefit from SimpleRx Prescription Discount Program.