Blast off: Are you getting enough Omega 3s?

Ensuring your body is getting sufficient nutrition can be a challenge especially with a hectic lifestyle.

Ensuring your body is getting sufficient nutrition can be a challenge especially with a hectic lifestyle.  By eating a wide variety of healthy foods; such as vegetables, fruits, and lean cuts of meat or protein alternatives, you are most likely getting your Recommended Daily Value of several vitamins and minerals.   However, there are some essential nutrients that aren’t abundant in many of the foods we eat today.  For instance, omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat found primarily in fish and flaxseeds, is not as prominent in our diet as omega-6 fatty acids, which is unfortunate due to the number of cardiovascular and other health benefits that omega-3s contain.

One of the primary benefits of omega-3s is their natural anti-inflammatory response, which can help people with inflammatory diseases, such as asthma and arthritis.  More importantly, omega-3s reduce inflammation in your arteries, caused by plaque, high blood pressure, and free radicals, all of which can lead to heart disease.  Another benefit of omega-3s is their ability to improve good cholesterol and reduce triglycerides, or unhealthy fats in your blood that are also linked to heart disease.  Omega-3s have also been linked to improved mental health; helping to maintain memory and reducing the risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.  What’s more, some research suggests that omega-3s can help with weight control by increasing feelings of satiety and encouraging the body to burn fat more efficiently.  And listen up … studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3s may reduce the amount of sun damage and ageing that your skin experiences.

The bottom line, include more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, either through food or supplements, to help reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your mental health, and possibly help maintain a healthy body weight and glowing skin.  Most people consume large quantities of omega-6 fatty acids and very minimal quantities of omega-3 fatty acids.  Since your body is unable to produce omega-3s by itself, you are most likely deficient, unless your diet regularly includes walnuts, flaxseeds and fish rich in omega-3s, such as fresh salmon, sardines, mackerel, fresh tuna, and lake trout.  If you’re big on tuna salad sandwiches, please know that canned tuna contains little to no omega-3s.  Sorry!

Try including omega-3 rich fish in your diet at least once a week.  You can also increase your omega-3 intake by switching to omega-3 rich eggs.  They don’t cost much more than regular eggs but have all the heart healthy benefits and anti-inflammatory effects.  Another way to incorporate more omega-3s in your diet is from ground flaxseeds.  Keep a jar of freshly ground flax in your refrigerator and sprinkle it on everything from cereal to salads, to smoothies and yogurt.  When baking, try substituting some of the flour with ground flax instead.  Finally, if you like nuts, opt for macadamia, as they contain more omega-3s than other varieties.

If you’re not consuming any these food items regularly, it might be time to consider supplementing with fish oils.  Although the thought might gross you out, fish oils are now available in numerous forms; including easy to swallow pills and flavoured oils that can be easily tossed in with salads and smoothies.  When considering supplements, it is easy to get confused.  Omega-3s are a great place to start, but you should always consult with your doctor before beginning any supplemental regime.

For more tips and tricks on eating and living a healthy lifestyle, sign up for S.M.A.R.T Health at the College of the Rockies, an 8-week program starting May 8, that will cover a number of health-related topics to improve your lifestyle one step at a time.  You can also contact a member of Fitness 4 Life at 250.688.0221 or 250.688.0024 for a complimentary Fitness Assessment in the comfort of your own home.  Make a healthy change today!

Yours in Health,

Hayley, Kate, & Jill