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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Benefits of Omega 3 

There are three types of omega 3 fats that we must get from our food and are essential for good health: 

  1. ALA- alpha-linolenic acid 
  1. DHA- docosahexaenoic acid  
  1. EPA- eicosapentaenoic acid 

The majority of the health benefits of omega 3 fats come from DHA and EPA which are animal- originating fats. A small ratio of ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, and comes from more plant-based foods. Omega 3 fats are essential for infant brain, nerve and eye development, but it does not stop there. As adults sufficient omega 3 fats in the diet can help protect against and treat heart disease, may help to manage symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis and may prevent many forms of dementia.  

Food sources of Omega 3 

  1. ALA- Ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts or walnut oil, hemp hearts and chia seeds 
  1. EPA & DHA- Herring, Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon, Trout, Arctic Char, Halibut 

Here are a few more ways to include more omega threes in your eating routine: 

  • Cook with canola oil, bake with walnut oil 
  • Grind whole flaxseed and store it in the freezer to prolong shelf life. Add into smoothies, oatmeal and baking 
  • Add walnuts into homemade trail mix for a snack or as added crunch in salads and muffins 
  • Add edamame beans or tofu to a vegetable sit-fry 
  • Add chia seeds or hemp hearts to your oatmeal or morning smoothie 

Did you know 

Vegetarian and vegan individuals who rely on plant sources of omega 3 fats will get it solely in the form of ALA. The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient and can at times make it difficult for vegetarians and vegans to reach their daily omega 3 requirements. Some idea to help promote conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA include: 

  • Limit alcohol intake as excess intake can inhibit conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA, as well as depletes stored chains of omega 3 fats 
  • Limit intake of process and deep fried foods containing trans fats as this too reduces conversion  
  • There are omega 3 supplements available derived from marine microalgae (a plant) that can be used to top up on omega 3 fats  

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