About fifty years ago, researchers found that there was a direct link between cardiovascular disease and hydrogenated and trans-fats. It was proposed that we change our diets to reduce or eliminate saturated fats, and to add unsaturated fats to increase health benefits and decrease disease.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) are unsaturated fats that are nutritionally important because they help support cellular processes, fight cardiovascular disease, help suppress appetite by keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable, decrease inflammation and water retention in cells, and increase energy production.
There are twenty carbon EFAs. When oxygenated, they produce signaling molecules called Eicosanoids. These exert complex control over many bodily systems, mainly related to inflammation or immunity, and act as messengers in the central nervous system. The networks of controls that depend upon eicosanoids are among the most complex in the human body. Eicosanoids are either Omega 3 or Omega 6 EFAs and can be broken down into four groups: prostaglandins, prostacyclins, the thromboxanes and the leukotrienes. (See below for further discussion on eicosanoids.)
It's easy to be overwhelmed when looking for the right supplement. You can get Omega 3 with Omega 6, or the bottle may just say EPA, DHA and GLA. Please talk to your healthcare provider if you want information specifically for your needs.
Omegas 3s are important for your heart and brain. There are many studies on the effects of Omega 3s in the prevention of heart attacks. They help by reducing inflammation, and by making blood less sticky and less likely to form damaging blood clots. Omega 3s also lower triglycerides and cholesterol in the walls of the artery, according to 2006 research and clinical trials at Tufts University. The American Medical Association recommends one gram of Omega 3s daily for people with coronary artery disease.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid): helps with mental health, mood, and cognitive function.
Sources: oily fish, like salmon, cod, and sardines.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid): helps with mental health, mood, and cognitive function.
Sources: oily fish, like salmon, cod, and sardines, and pre-natal vitamins and infant formula.
ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid): improves immune function, maintains healthy blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and lowers triglycerides. ALA is a great source of Omega 3 if you are vegetarian.
Sources: oils such as walnut, soybean, canola, black currant, hemp, perilla and flax (get cold milled, vacuum sealed flax for maximum absorption.
If you can't eat foods with Omega 3, then here are some tips for using supplements:
~ Make sure they are Mercury and other heavy metal free
~ Store in a cold dry place or fridge to prevent rancidity
~ Take with food to avoid fish burps, or get lemon flavored gels
~ If you are stomach sensitive, the enteric coated tablets digest in the intestines, rather than the stomach
Great Foods Sources of Omega 3s
~Fish including: Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Scallops, and Tuna
~Nuts and Seeds including: Walnuts and Flax
~Oils including: Canola, Flax Seed, Cod Liver, Walnut, and Unhydogenated Soybean.
~ Recommended 7-11 oz per week of Omega 3s from food.
Omega 6 is important for hormonal balance (PMS, fibrotic breast and breast tenderness), skin and joints. Most Omega 6s have to be converted to GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid) in the body. Sources: evening primrose, borage (highest dosage) and black currant oil (has both omega 3 and 6).
Eicosinoids and Why They are So Important
Prostaglandins have a wide variety of functions:
~ controls smooth muscle cells
~ control platelet clotting
~sensitize spinal nerves to pain
~ regulate inflammatory mediation
~ regulate calcium movement
~ control hormone regulation
~ control cell growth
Prostacyclins prevent clots forming in the blood and act as a vasodilator in the arteries.
Thromboxanes increase platelet formation and act as a vasoconstrictor in the arteries.
The balance between the Prostacyclins and Thromboxanes keeps the circulatory system in balance.
Leukotrienes are responsible for many inflammatory reactions in the body, including the allergic and asthmatic response by:
~ Obstructing airflow
~ Increasing the secretion of mucus
~ Infiltration of inflammatory cells in the airway wall
~ Involved with producing histamine
You don’t have to get your salmon at dinnertime. Here's a delicious breakfast remedy I enjoy, inspired by The Flying Biscuit Cafe in Atlanta, GA.
Salmon and Egg Scramble (single serving)
2 large eggs (can be omega 3 fortified)
1/8 cup water
1 oz. wild Alaskan smoked salmon or lox
2 tsp. dill
1 tbsp Organic coconut oil
1 tbsp organic cream cheese (optional)
- Add the oil to an omelet pan on medium heat. Whip the eggs and thewater together, and add to the pan when it is hot. Scramble together like any other egg mixture.
- If you are using cream cheese, then, in a clean bowl mix the cream cheese and dill well. If you aren't using cream cheese, then add the dill to the egg mixture before you add it to the pan.
- When your egg mixture is almost done, add the salmon in pieces and the cream cheese mixture. Mix in pan until the eggs are cooked to taste and the other ingredients are well distributed.
- Add a side of fruit and enjoy your omelet. This can be eaten at any time of day!
This information is intended for educational purposes and not to diagnose, treat or cure disease. Please talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns regarding your personal health.