Solution #4 in creating a healthy diet plan is to increase your intake of omega-3 fats from both seafood and vegan food sources (If you missed solution #3 to creating a healthy diet plan click HERE.) Watch the video below to learn more about why it’s important to eat omega-3 fats from both seafood and vegan food sources plus some “real world” ideas for how to make it happen….
Omega-3’s Need To Be a Nutrition Priority For Everyone
Everybody of all ages needs to consume omega-3 fats on a regular basis for both long-term physical and mental health.
A tremendous amount of research shows omega-3 fats reduce inflammation (thus improving symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, allergies, eczema, acne, etc.), reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, boost mood and help combat depression.
Omega-3’s support the health of your immune system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system; they are simply vitally important to your wellbeing. And yet, the vast majority of people today just don’t get nearly enough of these crucial fats. In fact, modern diets are more deficient in omega-3 fats than they are in just about any other nutrient.
So, if you are trying to create a healthy diet plan for yourself you absolutely need to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of omega-3’s (ideally from seafood and vegan sources.)
I realize a lot of people are interested in creating a healthy diet plan for weight loss purposes and therefore might shy away from eating more fats in an effort to avoiding eating more calories…but limiting your intake of omega-3 fats can actually thwart your weight loss efforts. Read on…
Omega-3’s are Super “Figure Friendly”
When it comes to your weight and the fats you eat, not all fats are created equal. Some fats are, well, fattening and others, like omega-3’s, can actually help you lose weight. In fact, if you are deficient in omega-3 fats, which many people eating todays S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) are, you might find weight loss particularly challenging.
Omega-3 fats help with weight loss because they improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, thus making it easier to burn fat for energy). Studies have also shown that a particular type of omega-3 fat (EPA from fish) binds to PPAR receptors in your body that turn on fat burning (1) —and by the way, trans fats actually have the exact opposite effect and actually slow down fat burning.
The point is, if you are trying to lose weight, adding fat from omega-3’s will actually help your efforts.
Meet the 3 Omega-3’s
There are actually three types of omega-3 fats: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
- ALA is found in vegan foods, including walnuts, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds, but two of the most concentrated sources of ALA are flax (including ground flaxseeds and flax oil) and chia seeds. You can mix ground flaxseeds and chia seeds in a wide number of foods including hot whole grain cereals, homemade bread and muffin mixes, smoothies, shakes and soups. You can also boost your ALA consumption with unheated flax oil (we especially like Barlean’s brand), hemp oil or walnut oil (never heat these omega-3 rich oils or you will destroy the delicate omega-3 fats) by drizzling the oil on vegetables, whole grains, salads, etc.
- EPA and DHA are non-vegan sources of omega-3 essential fats. Your body can convert ALA to EPA and then EPA to DHA. However, many factors can inhibit the conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA including stress, pollution, the aging process, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol consumption, diabetes and viral infections. Even eating trans fats and too much sugar can thwart the conversion process. The best source of EPA and DHA is fatty fish (you can also get DHA from egg yolks, just be sure to look for eggs from pastured chickens.) In addition, you can, and we believe should , supplement your diet with a fish oil supplement (Nordic Naturals makes a superior quality pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement and Barlean’s also makes an excellent and amazing tasting “smoothie-like” omega-3 supplement called OmegaSwirl, which is particularly good for kids.)
Vegan DHA option: If you are a strict vegan you can obtain DHA from natural marine plant sourced supplements. We especially like Nutru (www.Nutru.com) “O-Mega-Zen” as it is a 100% vegan, highly concentrated extra-strength omega-3 DHA supplement supplying 300 mg of DHA per capsule. NuTru’s O-Mega-Zen3 product has been evaluated by the Environmental Defense Organization Oceans Program as a Best Choice product based on testing carried out to certify that the product does not contain mercury, PCBs, dioxins, or other similar environmental contaminants.
1. Chambrier C, et al. Eicosapentaenoic acid induces Mrna expression of peroxisome proliferator –activated receptor gamma. Obes Res, 2002;10(6):518-525.