Everyone is raving about Omega 3’s. According to Web MD, Omega 3’s; EPA and DHA are shown to boost heart health and lower triglycerides. They also may help with rheumatoid arthritis, depression, even weight loss and more. With all this new knowledge, I thought we could all benefit from knowing a little bit more about the differences in where you can get these powerhouse nutrients from.
One thing I learned is that not all sources are equal. Experts mainly agree that the Omega 3’s from EPA and DHA are associated with more health benefits than the other sources. These are the ones found in salmon, trout, anchovies, tuna, and sardines. These have been shown to lower triglycerides, lower overall risk of death from heart disease, ease pain associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis, lower levels of depression, boost prenatal health. They are studying the effects of EPA and DHA on Asthma, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s Disease too! This is why 2 servings of fatty fish a week is recommended. What I have been wondering was, what about the plant sources that only have ALA (a precursor to EPA and DHA)?
Plant sources such as hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and the infamous chia seeds, contain ALA. ALA is not as long of a fatty acid chain as EPA and DHA. According to an article written in the Public Medical Central Journal, these plant sources are significantly different in terms of how much we absorb. The two doctors in the study say that our bodies can only convert 5% of the ALA to EPA. Some other articles say that more studies need to be done to learn the effects of these plant sources of omega 3’s.
In order to see some of the best places to get your Omega 3’s I decided to break down the amounts, just remember that the plant sources contain ALA (the possibly less effective Omega 3) and the Seafood sources contain EPA and DHA a more absorb-able and more well studied/more effective Omega 3.
1 oz Flax Seeds = 6388 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
1 oz Chia Seeds = 4915 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
1 oz Hemp seeds = 3000 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
1 oz Walnuts = 2542 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
4 oz Wild Atlantic Salmon = 2931 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
4 oz Sardines = 1656 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
4 oz Wild Rainbow Trout = 1332 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
5 Anchovies = 423 mg Omega 3 fatty acids
I was surprised to see that based on normal serving sizes, the plant sources have quite a lot of Omega 3’s! So even if we are only absorbing a small percent, it has got to make a difference in our health and physique, right!?!
Fish is wonderful and I hope that all of you are already eating at least two servings a week. But how many of you are eating the plant sources?
Here are some ideas for places to sneak in some of those healthy little fats!
Chia seeds have been used for centuries. Primarily know to have been a staple food of the Aztecs! Unlike Flax seeds, they do not have to be ground in order to absorb their powerful nutrients. They are delicious sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt! Chia seeds are a miraculous addition to your smoothies. My favorite is a chocolate banana one. I make in the morning before I leave for work. I do my workout around 7am or 8. By then my smoothies has turned into a chocolate Chia protein pudding. The seeds, when ground, turn into a gelatin like substance. Yummm!!!
Hemp Seeds are not grown in the U.S. They are primarily imported from Canada. They should be refrigerated after you open them and definitely check the expiration date. They have a nutty flavor and a surprisingly soft texture. They are great on yogurt or cottage cheese with cinnamon and pear. They are delicious on salads. They can also be added to smoothies.
Flax seeds must be ground in order for our bodies to absorb their Omega 3’s. Flax seeds also can go rancid so be sure to check the expiration date and refrigerate so preserve them for longer. They are great in baking. Check out my flax muffins or just search the web for other recipes where flax can be added.
I hope that you found this article useful. I’d love to know how you are incorporating these powerhouses into your daily diet. Leave a comment below!