I don't think anyone can argue the health benefits of proper fatty acid intake. So where do we get our Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet and how do we improve this?Many Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acids are considered 'Essential Fatty Acids' because they cannot be synthesized in the body and we must get them from our diet.
We know that increasing our intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial. Multiple studies have demonstrated a number of benefits such as:
- Decreases in Breast, Colon, and Prostate Cancer
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular deaths
- Decreased all-cause mortality
- Decreased sudden death
- Decreased carotid stenosis
- Improved serum Triglycerides
- Decreased primary and secondary heart attacks
- Possibly decreased anxiety & depression
- and many more...
So what is the best source?
Well, Flaxseed (linseed oil) is supposed to have very high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids but they are of a short-chain variety and unable to be utilized by the body.
In fact, plant sources of Omega-3's typically provide -Linoleic Acid (ALA) which is not as beneficial as DHA & EPA.
The best sources of these fatty acids are cold water oily fish such as:
These are typically in a 1:7 ratio (Omega-6 to Omega-3).
There are a number of other oils which have some Omega-3's as well...
- Canola oil (2:1)
- Soybean oil (7:1)
- Olive oil (3-13:1)
- Linseed oil (1:3)
- Corn oil (46:1)
The following oils contain no significant levels of Omega-3's:
- Cottonseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sunflower oil
Since the goal is to increase Omega-3 and decrease Omega-6 intake, we should avoid the oils listed immediately above and trend toward the others listed higher up.
We also know that at least 1 gram per day of Omega-3's gives us good results.
The typical American diet has a ratio of 10-40:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3. Evidence suggests that a 1:1 to 1:4 ratio is optimal.
Focus on the foods noted above and your health will improve.