Omega-3. What’s all the hype, anyway? You see it everywhere. So eat more fish, right? Or take fish oil supplements? Why do we need this nutrient anyway?? Well….. I’ve done a lil’ research. Let me share:
Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA…cute, isn’t it? PUFA…rhymes with loofah. Sorry. I get sidetracked). This is a nutrient that our bodies do not manufacture on their own. Therefore, we need to get it through our diet.
So just why is Omega-3 so important? A few things we know so far:
Heart health. Research suggests that fish oil can help lower triglyceride levels and aid in the prevention of heart disease, such as congestive heart failure.
Brain health. Omega-3 contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)…say that 10 times fast! Or…even one time slow. 🙂 In addition, it has eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Whew. Both of these are critical for healthy brain development at any stage of life. You will notice DHA & EPA on labels for baby formula as well as milk products, etc. these days. This is why. And, again, our bodies do not produce these on their own.
As I said, though, DHA & EPA are important at any stage of life. As the brain degenerates with age, DHA & EPA help boost brain health and therefore slow the process of degeneration. Also, studies have been pointing to the role omega-3s play in mental heath disorders such as depression, ADHD and other mood disorders, to name but a few.
Next questions: how much do we need? Do I need to eat salmon every day for the rest of my life? what if I don’t like salmon?
Ok. First of all, omega-3 fatty acids are found in highest concentrations in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and cod. Here is a list of fish options based on their level of omega-3s: Fish with high levels omega-3.
We need around 1,000-1,500 mg of fish oil per day for optimal benefits. Yup. That’s a lot o’ fish. So….what if you don’t want to eat fish 5 days a week? Supplement.
You have to be careful with which supplements you choose. There’s the obvious “after burp”. Y’all know just what I’m referring too. Ew. But you also have to pay attention to getting a pure fish oil that is not highly processed as well as NO OMEGA-6!!!!
I will explain omega-6 in my next entry. Just understand that in our Western diet we get FAR TOO much and it is detrimental at such high levels.
For now, I will leave you with information on a wonderful fish oil supplement that tastes delicious! No joke. Even my seven year old who is as picky as they come asks for more. No “after burp” either!
Omega Swirl: yummy fish oil supplement. We like the key lime flavor, but there are also other flavors. I found mine at our local vitamin/supplement store. You can also order online by clicking the link and going to the Omega Swirl site.
This is the condensed version of the omega-3 story. There are many more benefits and research is learning more all the time. The fact that there is so much to gain in health from these fatty acids and virtually no side-effects…well…it’s awesome. More info to come…