May 05, 2022 0 Comments
Omega-3: What is it and why do we need it?
EPA, DHA, ALA…So. Many. Acronyms. They all refer to what we know as omega-3. But what is omega-3 and why do we need it?
Omega-3 is popping up everywhere these days as we focus more and more on how we can be healthier through nutrition. What is it? It’s an essential fatty acid, which is what fat is made up of, and we can only get it through the foods we eat.
Just like with carbohydrates, fats can be “good” or “bad.” “Bad” fats include saturated and trans fat because they can be harmful to our health. “Good” fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kinds because they can lower our risk of disease. Omega-3s are a polyunsaturated type of fatty acid.
Here are a few of the main benefits:
EPA, DHA and ALA are part of the omega-3 family and they each have slightly different benefits. EPA is mostly associated with reducing inflammation and depression. DHA is mostly linked to brain and eye development and function.
DHA is also beneficial for skin health. This is because our skin cells contain DHA in their membranes. By making sure we get enough DHA in our diets, these cells can maintain healthy membranes and keep moisture from escaping. It also might help reduce irritation from certain skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
The third type, ALA, is a precursor to the EPA and DHA, meaning it has to be converted to those forms first to get the EPA and DHA benefits. Our bodies convert some but not all of the ALA we eat.
The most well-known source of omega-3s is fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Incorporating these fish into your diet regularly will help you get the omega-3 you need.
If you’re not a fish eater, there are a few non-fishy options. Try chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and soybeans. These foods are high in the ALA type of omega-3. ALA is generally considered an inferior source though, because not all of it gets converted to EPA or DHA. You’ll also find many foods at the grocery store that have omega-3 added to them. Be on the lookout for these fortified foods, like dairy and non-dairy milks, yogurt, juices, and eggs.
You could also take supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oil, algae oil and flaxseed oil. The good thing about fish oil supplements is that they’re less contaminated with mercury and PCBs than the actual fish you eat. This is because fish oil supplements are typically purified by the manufacturer (it will state that it is on the label.) They can have a fishy flavor that some don’t like, however.
Algae oil is considered an excellent source of omega-3 for vegetarians and vegans. Algae is actually what small fish eat to get their omega-3 content, so it’s basically going to the original source.
Omega 3s are the most popular, but they aren’t the only type of omega fatty acid that our bodies need. We also need omega 6 and 9. We even need a bit more omega-6 than 3, but omega-6 is in many processed foods made with certain vegetable oils, so if you eat these regularly you might already get enough. But watch out, eating a lot of processed foods may mean having too much omega-6.
Omega 6 is also found in oils like evening primrose and borage, which have been used for medicinal purposes. They both contain the omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid (GLA). Some of the possible benefits of these oils include reducing premenstrual syndrome or hot flashes, skin health, reducing eczema, decreasing inflammation, and heart health.
Evening primrose and borage are also excellent ingredients in skin care. The GLA in these oils helps soothe skin irritations like eczema and dermatitis, boosts hydration, and repairs skin damage and wrinkles. Other omega-rich oils like safflower, sunflower seed, and rosehips are excellent hydrators for aging skin.
Omega 9 is non-essential because our bodies make our own, so we don’t necessarily need it in our diets. Keeping a balance of 3-6-9 is what’s most important.
Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion you may have had about omega-3 and why it’s making headlines lately. Incorporating it into your diet can have so many health benefits, and eating fish isn’t the only way to get it. It’s also a skin care ingredient we love here at Nurture My Body. Look for products with evening primrose, borage, sea buckthorn, and safflower oil for healthy, hydrated and happy skin!
May 11, 2022 0 Comments
April 27, 2022 0 Comments
April 20, 2022 0 Comments