The Facts about Omega 3

It is in the news and just about every second advertisement seems to be all about spruiking the benefits of Omega-3 supplements for just about everything that ails you.
So what is Omega-3 and why is it so important that we need extra helpings of it?

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According to the University of Maryland:

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can’ t make them — you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.

What makes omega-3 fats special?

They are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
They also bind to receptors in cells that regulate genetic function. Likely due to these effects, omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
All sorts of benefits are being ascribed to Omega-3 including its use for heart and joint health, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma conditions – even as a treatment for depression, ADHA and dementia.

Since the body doesn’t make Omega-3, it has to come from the food we eat.

The very best way of getting the optimum amount of Omega-3 fatty acids is through our foods, including fish – including herrings, sardines, tuna – krill, eggs and a variety of plant sources including kiwi fruit, chia seed, flax, walnuts, pecan nuts and hazel nuts.
This is where the Omega-3 story gets a little complex.

Omega-3 fats come in three varieties

ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) – found primarily in dark green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and a variety of vegetable oils. Dark green vegetables, freshly ground flax seeds, and raw walnuts are the healthiest sources of ALA.

EPA (EicosoPentaenoic Acid) – found primarily in cold water fish like salmon, cod, mackerel, and tuna, as well as in fresh seaweed. Also found in smaller amounts in organically raised animal products like free-range eggs, chickens, and grass-fed beef.

DHA (DocosaHexaenoic Acid) – found in the same foods that EPA is found in.

And this is the way Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids work:

Our bodies cannot make the “parent” molecule for omega-3 fatty acids, alpha linoleic acid (…), on its own. Therefore, this omega-3 — ALA — is considered an “essential” fatty acid. Downstream, the parent ALA gets metabolized into the two most beneficial fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It would be difficult to oversing the praises of EPA and DHA, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, along with playing a range of other crucial roles in the body.

While plant-based foods contain great amounts of ALA, the body is not as proficient in converting ALA into EPA and DHA.
The Department of Food Science at the Australian RMIT University has indicated that typical omnivores have higher Omega 3 blood levels than vegetarians.

Another study, performed at the Research Institute of Nutrition in Slovakia studied a group of children ages 11-15 years over an average length of 3.4 years:

10 were semi-vegetarians, 15 were lacto-ovo vegetarians and seven were pure vegans. This group was compared to a group of 19 omnivores. Whereas the lacto-ovo vegetarians and the omnivore group showed exactly the same amount of Omega 3 in their blood, the semi-vegetarian group was somewhat deficient. The vegan group was most deficient and was found to have substantially lower blood levels of Omega 3, compared to the later groups.

This is the reason why many people use mainly fish and krill-based supplements to boost their Omega-3 intake.

But that is not the end of the story for vegetarians and vegans.
Simply increasing the consumption of foods with the highest amounts of Omega-3 alone may be enough:

Walnuts and flaxseeds have the highest amount of omega-3 acids. Just a small increase in consumption can have health benefits. Walnuts and flaxseeds can be added to salads, breads and baked goods. Ground flaxseed can be added to almost any food, but it has to be used within 24 hours of being ground or it loses many of its healthy properties. Mustard seeds and clove have small amounts of omega-3.

Cabbage and broccoli are very good sources. Brussels sprouts, romaine, spinach, turnips, green beans and many types of squash have omega-3 as well. Even some fruits like strawberries and raspberries have some omega-3 in them. Make a healthy salad with all these ingredients and you will get enough omega-3 to satisfy your daily needs.

Omega-3s do not need to be consumed in large amounts. The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids recommends consuming 0.65 g or 650 mg of DHA and EPA from fish per day on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Consume 2.22 g or 2,220 mg of ALA per day from plant and vegetable products. This totals 2.87 g or 2,870 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day.
The short answer to this very long tale is that omnivores – people who eat the widest variety of food – can more easily get the optimal amount of Omega-3 through food.

Vegetarians and vegans need to increase the amount of the plant-based sources that are rich in Omega-3 and ensure they eat more of a wider variety of these foods.

Via Miessence blog

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Seasonal Eating for the end of Summer

 

In the southern hemisphere we are enjoying summer.  All the holiday celebrations can be hard on your liver. Crucerferous veges such as brocoli, sprouts and cabbage benefit the liver.  Watercress, fresh fruits, beetroot, garlic, bitter veges and green tea will also benefit liver detox pathways.

Some fantastic foods which are in season at the moment and I’ve been enjoying are.

 

Asparagus

– A natural diuretic which is great if you suffer from fluid retention

-Rich in folate, vit E, vit C. Folate helps carry carbon around the body, this mechanism constantly repairs DNA.

 

Avocado

– Provides nearly 20 essential nutrients including fibre, potassium, vit E, folate.  The good fats in Avos act as a nutrient booster helping the body absorb fat soluable nutrients such as beta carotene and lutein.

 

Kale

– Rich in sulphur – containing phytonutrients which research indicates have the capacity to help fight cancer. Great source of beta carotene and calcium

 

Watercress

– Contains iron, calcium, folic acid, vit A, vit C and iodine. Best eaten in its natural state fresh and crisp.

 

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Let me know in the comments below what you are enjoying eating this season? If it’s not summer where you are let me know which season you are in.

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Superfoods for arthritis

Apples

Contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants and bone-friendly boron and magnesium.  Eating 100g of apple provides the same antioxidant benefits for inflamed joints as 1500mg vitamin c.  Wash but don’t peel your apples the antioxidants are five times more concentrated in the skin than the flesh.

Avocado

Contains antioxidant monounsaturated oils, essential fatty acids, beta-sitosterol and vitamin E. Avocado can suppress joint inflammation by reducing production of inflammatory substances.  It promotes cartilage repair in osteoarthritis by stimulating the activity of bone-building cells and cartilage cells.

Brazil Nuts

The richest dietary source of selenium – a single Brazil nut contains around 50mcg.  Selenium improves the quality of cartilage proteins. Also good source of magnesium and sulphur.  People with the highest dietary intake of selenium are least likely to develop osteoarthritis.  Each increase of 0.1 parts per million of selenium in your toenail clippings ( a good indicator of selenium status) lowers your risk of knee osteoarthritis by 20 percent.

Chilli peppers

Contains substances called capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin.  Capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin block transmission of pain messages.  They also trigger the release of endorphins – the brains own morphine-like painkillers.  Capsaicin is used in clinical trials as a long acting analgesic to treat post-surgical and osteoarthritis pain – a single injection at the site of pain acts for several months.

Curry powder spices

For example, anise, chilli, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger, mustard and turmeric. Curry spices have an anti-inflammatory, pain killing action that helps to alleviate joint symptoms.  Mustard isothiocyanates reduce inflammation in a similar way to aspirin.  Turmeric and ginger contain curcumin, which may reduce cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis, and prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

Dark green leafy vegetables

For example broccoli, spinach, spring greens, dark green cabbage and parsley.  These vegetables supply antioxidant carotenoids, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. A high antioxidant diet is good for arthritis.  Sixty-one percent of the bone-friendly calcium  found in broccoli is absorbed from the gut, compared to 32 percent of calcium in milk. Inliven contains broccoli, spinach and cabbage and Deep green contains kale, collard greens and lots of grass juices.

Dark blue-red pigmented fruits

For example cherries, grapes, blueberries, bilberries, dark raspberries and elderberries.  These contain antioxidant anthocyanins which lower levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body.  Eating 250g of black cherries daily can lower uric acid levels enough to prevent gout.  Drinking a glass of red grape juice has an antioxidant action that lasts for two hours after ingestion. As the name suggests Berry Radical has a variety of berries packed in, including acai berry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry.

Garlic

Contains beneficial substances such as allicin.  A Russian study has shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from increasing the amount of garlic they eat.

Grapefruit

Contains vitamin C and antioxidant bioflavonoids.  Red grapefruit has a higher antioxidant content than yellow grapefruit.  Grapefruit helps to reduce inflammation, strengthen cartilage and block prostaglandins (substances involved in pain).  It increase the anti-inflammatory effect of some painkillers.  Eating grapefruit regularly improves symptoms in some people with rheumatoid and other forms of inflammatory arthritis.

Macadamia nuts

The richest food source of monounsaturated fatty acids and an excellent source of vitamin E and selenium.  The antioxidant action reduces inflammation in arthritis.  The nuts are being used in a trial to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Cathedral Cove Macadamias has a great range of macadamia products.

Oily fish

A rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).  A large analysis of 17 studies assessing the pain-relieving effects of omega-3 fatty acids in rheumatoid and other autoimmune forms of arthritis showed they significantly reduce joint pain and intensity, the duration of morning stiffness, the number of painful joints and the need to take NSAID painkillers – all within three to four months.

Olive oil

A rich source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory substances.  Increased olive oil consumption is associated with a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.  Olive oil may protect against the development of osteoarthritis.

Onions

A rich source of quercetin – an antioxidant bioflavonoid that suppresses the production of inflammatory substances.  Red onions are particularly high in antioxidants.  Quercetin binds to cartilage and strengthens its structure. As an antioxidant it mops up free radicals within joints and reduces the release of protein-degrading enzymes.

Pomegranate

A rich source of antioxidant polyphenols, anthocyanins, vitamins C and E and carotenoids.  Just one of the fantastic ingredients in Berry Radical. Its antioxidant potential is two or three times higher than that of red wine and green tea.  Ellagic acid in pomegranate juice reduces inflammation by blocking activation of inflammatory substances that play a key role in cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis.

Red wine

A rich source of antioxidant polyphenols such as resveratrol.  Resveratrol blocks the release of inflammatory substances, which helps to reduce joint inflammation.

Teas

White, green, oolong and black tea contain high levels of antioxidant catechins, such as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG inhibits the expression of inflammatory mediators in arthritic joints and helps to protect cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis.

Walnuts

A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory action. Some research shows that eating walnuts daily can help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Yellow or orange fruit and vegetables

For example carrots, sweet potatoes, guava, mango and pumpkin – these are all rich sources of vitamin C and antioxidant carotenoids.  Fruit and vegetables with high antioxidant content can reduce pain and inflammation in all types of arthritis.

Yogurt (live)

Contains probiotic bacteria. Probiotic bacteria help to reduce the severity of joint inflammation.  They also reduce abnormal intestinal bacterial balance (dysbiosis) associated with ‘leakiness’ of the gut wall and food intolerance.  Inliven is packed full of probiotics or try the gluten-free Fast-tract which is even more abundant in the good bacteria.