Now what about fish oil, or more specifically, the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids we hear and read so much about – are supplements, fish or other Vegan Sources of Omega 3 DHA and EPA foods more beneficial?
First, some clarification and background: The nutritional goal with these elements is balance. Equal amounts of the acids ensure a smoothly running vascular system, a lower incidence of inflammation, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Before the prevalence of processed foods, Omega-3s were found in free-range animals and passed on to us through eggs, milk and meat — and consuming them was nutritious for us.
As food has become more processed, many of the most routine sources of these foods, the mass-produced and processed versions in supermarkets, no longer contain these beneficial nutrients.
Now it’s harder to find good sources of Omega-3s. And, at the same time, our consumption of Omega-6s, found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and safflower – all of which are used liberally in fast foods – has dramatically increased.
This has created a significant imbalance for most of us, which is why there is much information percolating about consuming more Omega-3s – found in cold water fish, such as salmon – in order to rebalance our intake.
Noted alternative health authority Dr. Andrew Weil also points out that the dietary imbalance of the Omegas that most of us have may even be a chief contributor to the rise in asthma, depression and hyperactivity, all of which have been shown to have some links to vascular inflammation.
Improving the proportions of these fats – which are needed for key body functions – could even potentially lower the incidence of depression, according to Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a National Institutes of Health psychiatrist and arguably the world’s leading expert on the relationship between fat consumption and mental health.
The American Dietetic Association and even the World Health Organization recommend at least two portions of fish per week, and advise eating the food, rather than supplements that contain Omegas. (Vegan alternatives are walnuts and flaxseeds; and a healthier alternative to cooking and for making salad dressing with corn, sunflower, soy, cottonseed or safflower oil is cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.)
The top reason? Food synergy: the way that the substances in the fish – including other minerals and vitamins in addition to Omega-3s — interact with the body that cannot be duplicated by supplements.
Do not completely ignore fish oil supplements. Check the supplements out thoroughly as they are not all alike, some contain high levels of mercury. I would suggest The Zone fish oils by Dr. Barry Sears. They are high quality, pharmaceutical grade, and very low in mercury. Be sure to read the supplement labels – including the small print on nutritional supplement bars – and make sure the Omega it contains is Omega-3 to ensure you are receiving the best results from your efforts.