What are the Omega-3 fats?


Omega 3’s are one of the two Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs – see Omega-6 blog) and the one you will hear most about in the media.
It is called an EFA because your body is not able to make the primary Omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid – ALA – see diagram) from other fats, so you have to get your supplies of Omega-3 in your food.

The richest source of Omega-3 (ALA), readily available in stores, is flax seed oil (61%). Flax seed oil also contains 16% Omega-6 and 14% Omega-9.
(Due to crazy labeling laws in NZ we are not permitted to put the Omega-6 content on our labels, unless we have more than 40% Omega-6, so our labels do not show the Omega-6 content).
Organic flax oil is produced by a sustainable process (unlike fish oil).

The only other readily available plant oils with useful amounts of Omega-3 are hemp seed oil and walnut oil (See Table).
There are a few unusual nut and seed oils which do contain useful quantities of ALA , but they are not readily available and are expensive.
You will get a little Omega-3 out of free range or grass-fed meats and green leafy vegetables – so be like Pop-eye and eat your spinach

You recall (from the Omega-6 Blog) that our bodies evolved with an equal 1 : 1 ratio of Omega-6 : Omega-3, but most people now have a ratio of between 10 to 30 : 1 in their body – way too much Omega-6.
So how do you get enough Omega-3 in your diet to get your body back into the balance it needs to be WELL?

If you look at the Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio of what are often considered the Omega-3 oils, the flax seed oil is the only one with more Omega-3 than Omega-6, so eating more hemp and walnut oil is not going to do much to improve the balance of Omega-6 : Omega-3 in your body.

So flax seed oil is the only readily available source of ALA which has the potential to reduce the major imbalance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 in your body and get it back to close to 1:1, as nature designed you to be.
That does not mean you should take straight flax seed oil every day for the rest of your life – that has the potential to be just as bad for you as too much Omega-6. Once your balance is restored then you need an oil like our Flax Balance to maintain wellness.

There is a lot of work showing very strongly that it’s not enough to treat lack of Omega-3 like – say a shortage of zinc and take a zinc supplement.
You need to get flax oil into your diet (rather than a couple of fish oil capsules) to get your Omega-6 and Omega-3 in BALANCE to get the major benefits to your wellness (more on this shortly).
The secondary Omega-3’s are obtained from plant oils like blackcurrant and from fish oils – more on that to come.

David Musgrave

Check out the best oils at http://functionalwholefoods.co.nz/

    Tip of the Day

Eat free range or organic eggs – they will give you useful amounts of Omega-3.

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Filed under Good Fats and Bad Fats, How Omega-3's work

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