Should you add omega 3 supplements to your diet?

I feel like over the last decade a big fuss has been made about the importance of omega 3 oils and how you should get them by eating fish or supplementing with fish oil (hi there nasty fishy burps!). i personally never paid much attention to it, even when i was eating seafood. it just never seemed important enough to me.

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what you don’t really hear about much are Omega 6 fatty acids. Why not? because if you’re eating a standard american diet you’re probably getting more than enough of these guys. and YES they are very important, just like omega 3s, but your omegas should be in balance. so the more 6s you get, the more 3s you need. and as americans increase their consumption of 6s the need for 3s increased, hence the obsession with fish oil and salmon. We should target a 1:1 to 5:1 ratio of 6 to 3 but from the studies i’ve read (here, here, and here) it looks like most americans range from 14:1 to 50:1. Oy!

so where do those 6s come from? Lots of sources- both good and bad but the most notable being most vegetable oils. These oils are in so many processed foods and as americans are consuming more and more processed foods they’re consuming more and more of these oils and thus getting more and more omega 6s. Additional sources include chicken, eggs, avocados, nuts, cereal, mayo, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and whole grain breads. You *NEED* omega 6s in your diet to stay healthy. However when you have too much then it throws off the balance of 6:3 and then you can have a whole slew of health issues.

Never fear! You can get in your 6s and 3s following a healthy whole food plant based diet! So where do you get omega 3s without taking nasty fish oil pills? Flaxseeds! I like to use flaxseeds in baking to make vegan eggs by taking a tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseeds (i buy them whole and crush them in a coffee grinder and refrigerate any extra) and mixing with 3 tablespoons of water and stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes- makes an awesome binder for baking! Chia seeds have a similar effect as well and i like to use them to thicken up sauces and dressings too. Beans & greens also have some omega 3s but they’re not high in fat anyways so they’re not the best sources… but you should be eating them all the time just because they’re so awesome that you should already be getting in your omega 3s there! Walnuts & pecans also have omega 3s but they’re even higher in omega 6 so i wouldn’t say that’s the best source!

So just like anything in the nutrition world balance is key… balance out those omegas and you’ll be good to go- no fish burps required!

and if you want a more detailed explanation that breaks it down super nicely check out this old video of Dr. Greger’s (it’s a long one so make some popcorn first!):

 

 

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