What are omega 3 fatty acids? They are polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs (see my last post). They have a unique chemical structure which gives them their name. Omega-3 fatty acids (or foods that are high on Omega-3 fatty acids) are essential in helping control inflammation in the body.
If you exercise, it behooves you too include Omega-3 fatty acids on your diet. The way the body becomes stronger is by tearing out fragile tissue and building up new stronger tissue in its place. Inflammation is a necessary requirement for our bodies to recover from our daily activities, and exercise from fixing scrapes on our skin to reinforcing the microtears in our muscles after exercise. The body’s inflammatory responses are essential in keeping us alive. They help repair the damage that virus and other microorganisms cause to our inner tissues when we are ill. Unfortunately, a chronic state inflammation (inflammation gone crazy) is associated with coronary disease, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, and cancers to mention a few. That’s why adding omega-3 sources to your diet is a great idea.
As I mentioned on a previous post, alpha linolenic acid is an essential omega 3 fatty acid found in flaxeed oil and, to a lesser extent, in soy, tofu, walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil and pumpkin seed and pumpkin seed oil. In the body, these essential fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and might be important to maintain cognitive and behavioral health. The following conditions have reportedly been helped by adding ALA into our diets: heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and menstrual pain. If you decide to supplement with flaxseed oil, take one tablespoon each day.
Additional to alpha linolenic acid, DHA and EPA are two important omega-3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA can both be manufactured in the body, though not very efficiently. They are found in cold oceanic fish like cod, mackerel, salmon and sardines. Vegans tend to have trouble obtaining these important oils unless they supplement. DHA and EPA have been shown to lower inflammatory cytokines associated with neurodegenerative (like Alzheimer’s), autoimmune diseases (like Lupus) and some cancers.
As far as supplementation with DHA and EPA, algae derived oils as well as fish oil supplements will make it easy to include these fatty acids on your diet. I personally supplement with cod liver oil with over 500 mgs of DHA and EPA each per serving.
Since Omega 3-fatty acids are PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids), you need to add antioxidants in your diet. The most potent and studied antioxidants in the market are vitamins A, C, and E, the mineral selenium and CoQ10. You also need to remember to store these oils away from light and contact with air.
So this is it, the whole series on fats, fatty-acids, and triglycerides on my last 4 posts. I hope you are clearer on the subject of fats. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your weekend!