What’s so great about omega-3s? It’s a fat after all! Despite their necessary role in healthy brain and bodily functions, fats have gotten a bad rap. Want to know a little more about omega-3s? We’ve got some great omega-3 fatty acid facts and helpful tips for you.
In fact, not all fat is bad (though too much of a good thing can still be bad, so watch your amounts of the good fats, too!). Our bodies require a certain amount of fat to function properly as they contain essential nutrients our bodies require and cushion our vital internal organs.
Fat is also necessary for the transport of fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E and K. It provides us with gorgeous locks of hair and supple skin—and if consumed in a responsible way, fat can also help us lose weight!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARE DEFICIENT IN OMEGA-3s?
Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency can be vague and often misdiagnosed as some other health condition. Deficiency symptoms often include: fatigue, dry and/or itchy skin, brittle hair and nails, constipation, frequent colds, depression, poor concentration, lack of physical endurance and/or joint pain. In order to maximize the benefits omega-3s offer it is important to get a sufficient amount of vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.
COOKING AND STORAGE OF OMEGA-3s
Polyunsaturated oils, including the omega-3 fats, are easily damaged by heat, light and oxygen. This is important for a number of reasons. When exposed to the elements the oil becomes rancid and the nutritional quantity is deeply diminished but more importantly the oxidation of these oils produces free radicals, which play a role in a host of degenerative diseases.
For example, an intact flax seed poses no issue. But when the outer shell is pressed to release its oil, the oil itself is no longer with protection. How do we keep it protected? By using a dark colored bottle with a tight lid and storing in the refrigerator. This also means that omega-3s should not be used for cooking because again the heat alters the delicate chemical make-up. A better choice to use omega-3 oils would be for use in salads. Grapeseed oil and coconut oil can tolerate high heat and are a better choice for cooking.
TIPS TO INCORPORATE OMEGA-3s INTO THE EXISTING DIET
- Use olive oil, hemp, walnut, flax, avocado oil as a primary source of fat in oils
- Sprinkle flaxseed over breakfast cereals
- Use cereals like Q’ia which include buckwheat, chia and hemp
- Purchase raw flax crackers like Dr. In the Kitchen Flackers or make your own
- Use cracked chia in smoothies and in desserts
- Consume walnuts
- Eat avocados
- Eat romaine lettuce, sesame seeds (tahini), mustard seeds, tofu, spinach, collard greens, kale, soybeans, summer squash, turnip greens, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, miso, green beans and strawberries
Fun fact! Flax seed oil is 50 to 60 percent omega-3 fat, which is more than fish oil!
HOW TO MAINTAIN THE PROPER RATIO OF
OMEGA 6: OMEGA 3
Increase your intake of omega-3s through plant based foods and minimize your intake of omega-6 oils and foods by eliminating processed foods and oils.
Article written by Laura Bushey, MAT, Certified Health Educator and Personal Holistic Chef. Read more about Laura here.
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