Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eat Your Omegas!

The Omega essential fatty acids are a point of confusion for many people. In layman's terms, here is my attempt to clear it up for you.

Our bodies were designed to function at an optimum level with the proper ratio (1:1) of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3's can be found primarily in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackeral, etc. The body needs the fatty acids EPA and DHA contained in these Omega-3's. There are vegetarian sources such as flax seed and walnuts, however, they supply the body only with ALA and force the body to do the work and produce the EPA and DHA itself.

Omega-6's are found in seeds and nuts and the oils extracted from them. In the typical Western diet, these fatty acids are more than plentiful. Soybean oil, found in cookies, crackers, fast food, etc. is estimated to make up a whopping 20% of the typical American's caloric intake! Omega-6's are also found in corn, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils.

So what does this mean exactly? Well, if you suffer from obesity, depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and even a tendency toward violence, you may be experiencing symptoms of a deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also believed that asthma, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases, all of which may stem from inflammation in the body could be symptoms of this deficiency.

What can you do about it? Start by getting a good Omega-3 supplement as you are most likely much higher in Omega-6's. You'll want to make sure the oil comes from a food source (i.e. fish or flax). Start to alter your snacking habits by choosing fresh fruit, veggies, or lean protein instead of crackers, chips, etc. Read your labels and start to understand what goes into the things you buy. Eat more cold water fish (think scales, not smooth skin) on a regular basis.

Once you have achieved a diet rich in Omega-3's without the excess of Omega-6's, supplementation may not be necessary. Like Mom always said, "Honey, Eat your Omegas!"

With Love and Gratitude~

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