Because of the fact that our bodies do not produce them, this in turn means that our sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 must be provided by our diet or supplements. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the two essential fatty acids that are most recognized by people.
Medical studies have shown that if the dietary ratio of these essential fatty acids is out of balance, we need to be consuming more of these essential acids. The type contained in fish such as mackerel and salmon is a complex one made up of two types of acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This more complex Omega 3 is perfect for our needs.
Research has shown that these fatty acids may help to reduce cardiovascular disease, but that results confirm that it is most directly linked to fish oil. Adding these to the diet not only promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, but also may help: reduce blood clotting in the arteries and protect from hardening of the arteries; reduce inflammation and stiff joints in those with arthritis; improve symptoms of depression; improve blood sugar levels in those with diabetes; and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
For those of you who are vegetarian, or don’t like fish must obtain these acids from other sources like plants or supplements. Plants are a simpler source of them, which are called ALA’s, or Alpha-Linolenic Acid, and is converted in our bodies into both EPA and DHA.
For those of you who would prefer a supplemental source of these, there is a good supply available made from either fish or plant oils, like flax seed oil. The fish oil contains the two long chain fatty acids which are DHA and EPA which we mentioned above, and are the forms of omega-3s that your body directly uses for a variety of purposes. Flax and other plant oils contain ALA as mentioned earlier, and is also a healthy fatty acid, but is slightly different from EPA and DHA, however in most instances, your body should be able to convert the ALA to DHA or EPA.
Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
EPA and DHA Sources of Omega 3 fatty Acids are primarily found in fish, especially cold-water, high-fat varieties such as:
Sources of Alpha-linolenic Acid:
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
Soybeans and soybean oil
Green Leafy Vegetables like Spinach, Romaine Lettuce and Collard Greens
Summer & Winter Squash
Kidney & Navy Beans
Certain Berries like Strawberries & Raspberries
Free Range Beef and Poultry
There are both fish and plant-based supplements available which are safe to take as long as you follow the label directions. Taking these supplements for long periods of time may lead to vitamin E deficiencies in some people, and taking large amounts of omega-3 supplements may interfere with blood clotting or interact with certain medications. It’s always best to speak with your health care provider before taking large amounts of any dietary supplements.
The Institute of Medicine suggests an Adequate Intake level of ALA at 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women, and 0.11 to 0.16 grams per day of EPA and DHA. The American Heart Association recommends 0.5 to 1 gram per day of DHA and EPA. The National Institute of Health recommends consuming at least 2 percent of total daily calories from these; based on a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats daily.
We hope that this source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids list helps you improve both yours and your families diet and health. Peace my friends!