Wellness Wednesdays: What's Omega-3 and why do I need it?


Bernadette Smith

Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s are essential fatty acids.

That means they are essential for optimal health, but the human body cannot make them. They must be acquired through food. Both fatty acids are crucial to healthy brain development and function and are integral to your body’s inflammatory processes — which is an important part of your body’s immune system! 

Simply put, Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and some Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation and are mainly found in vegetable oils. A healthy diet will contain a balance of both.

Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) contains way more pro-inflammatory Omega-6’s and much too few anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s.

There are two main types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are long-chain omega-3’s. You can easily find them in fish, shellfish and some sea vegetables.
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is a short chain fatty acid found in plants like flaxseed, walnuts, and leafy greens. It is believed that ALA is a precursor of the other 2. With it, your body can make DHA and EPA

There are hundreds of studies showing increased consumption of omega-3’s can have a real benefit with a wide range of conditions like asthma, depression, cancer, heart disease, ADD/ADHD, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It is believed that, because these diseases all have a root in inflammation, the anti-inflammatory properties of these essential fatty acids can be particularly powerful.

Here’s where to find Omega-3’s:

Fish – look for small, cold water, wild caught fish like:

• Halibut

• Herring

• Mackerel

• Salmon

• Trout

• Fresh Tuna

Grains and Nuts:

• Flaxseed

• Pumpkin Seeds

• Walnuts

Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are rich in ALA as well as DHA and EPA

• Brussels Sprouts

• Kale

• Spinach

• Watercress

• Parsley

If you’re looking for a good, high-quality supplement, you want small, coldwater fish or wild caught salmon with no allergens like wheat, corn, milk or added colors, sugars or starch. Want some good recipes loaded with healthy omega-3’s? Then click here. 

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Bernadette Smith is an organic gardener, life-long tree hugger and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living in Patchogue, N.Y. She offers free 30-minute Health Discovery Sessions and can reached through Facebook or by emailing SimplyNourishedHome@gmail.com.