Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3

If you want to learn what are Omega-3 Fatty Acids, how they act on your body, what health benefits they procure you and get some recipes, then continue to read this article!

An omega-3 Fatty Acids deficiency is one of the most common nutritional unbalanced these past years. This is a serious deficiency as it can cause diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic inflammatory diseases, and psychological disorders.

This deficiency is due to many changes in the society. For example:

  • A global tendency to eat less plant products, which are rich source of omega-3, with a preference to a high consumption of omega-6 based products: many oils (palm, soybean, rapeseed, sunflower…), poultry, eggs…
  • Elderly organisms have more complicated time to absorb omega-3
  • Products which are a rich source of omega-3 are generally expensive foods, such as fish or nuts

If you’re suffering from an omega-3 deficiency, you may feel some of these symptoms: poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings, joint pain and autoimmune disease.

First thing first, you may want to learn more about the major role of Fatty Acids in your organism.

What Are Essential Fatty Acids? What Do They Do?

A fatty acid molecule is one of the building blocks of fat, which is where the body store energy. It’s important to know that fat is essential to the organism as all the cells in the body have some fat inside their membrane and hormones are made from fats.

Chemically speaking, omega-3 and omega-6 are Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), which are fat molecules that have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule. For example, oils that contain PUFAs are liquid at room temperature but are turning solid when chilled.

Basically, PUFAs will help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. These Fatty Acids also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cell.

Note: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are considered as “good” fats as they have positive effects on your health, which is not the case of saturated fats and trans fats.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered “essential” fats for 2 reasons:

1- They are required by your organism for biological processes and many functions such as building healthy cells or maintaining brain and nerve function

2- They are not naturally produced by your body. That’s why they are called “essential” and you have to eat some through your diet

What You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are 3 types of omega-3, which are:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are also called marine omega-3 as they come mainly from fish and fish oils.
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is the most common omega-3 fatty acid. It is found in plant products such as plant oils, nuts, and leafy vegetables

Your body and organism needs all of the 3 types of omega-3 fatty acids. It uses ALA mainly for energy an EPA and DHA are essential for the normal functional development of the retina and brain. Your liver can transform some ALA into usable EPA and DHA but in an insufficient amount, that’s why it’s really important to adapt your diet in order to get all of them!

Even if all omega-3 sources are crucial in your diet, the preferred ones are EPA and DHA. So don’t hesitate to get all food which have natural high concentration of marine omega-3, such as wild caught fish!

Top Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Prevent Cancer

It appears that higher intakes of omega-3, either from food or supplements, might reduce the risk of cancer due to their anti-inflammatory effects and potential to inhibit cell growth factors. However, results tend to depend and vary by cancer and other factors, including gender and genetic risk:

  • Several researches suggest that a high intake of fish oil is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer
  • The use of fish oil supplements reduced colorectal cancer risk for men by an average of 34%. It does not have the same effect on women.

Note: the consumption of omega-3 have not been proved as effective on other cancers yet.

  • Preserve Heart Health

EPA and DHA have many health benefits including improving cardiovascular capabilities.

This study shows that omega-3 consumption appears to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease and prevent from sudden cardiac death. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids also lower your blood pressure and heart rate and improve your blood vessel function.

Another research shows that heart attack survivors who took a daily dose of 1 g capsule of omega-3 during 3 years were less likely to have another heart attack or stroke.

  • Promote Brain Health

Observational studies suggest that a high intake of omega-3 in your diet is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

EPA and DHA have many health benefits including improving brain development and cognitive functions. Indeed, it has been proven that omega-3 levels are linked to better cognitive functioning and to healthier blood vessels in the brain. In addition, this study shows that adults aged under 25 who increased their omega-3 dose over 6 months improved their scores on working memory performance.

Omega-3 will help you fight against Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. This study shows that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have lower serum levels of DHA than cognitively healthy people.

Check the 7 Brain Foods to Improve Your Memory and Focus article to know which other foods can help you!

  • Fight Against Inflammation

Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory substances, that’s why they might be useful in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which is characterized by chronic inflammation of the joints. This analysis indicates that fish oil reduces patient assessed joint pain, duration of morning stiffness and number of painful and /or tender joints.

That’s not all, omega-3 could also prevent from inflammatory bowel diseases and asthma.

Other Health Benefits of Omega-3 Consumption

Is There Any Risk to the Consumption of Omega-3?

It’s important to take an adequate ratio of omega-3 / omega-6:

  • If you consume too many omega-6 through your diet, your blood will be less fluid and you’ll get more inflammation. That can also cause serious disease such as heart attack or cancer. Even though there is no official recommendation of this ratio, general instruction in order to not have any deficiency is at least 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3
  • On the other hand, if you get much more omega-3, the risks are the opposite. You won’t get heart attack because your blood is flowing easily, even too much! That can lead to haemorrhagic strokes.

Some studies show that a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is better in order to reduce the risk of chronic diseases which have become epidemics in Western societies. For example, a ratio of 2:1 removes inflammation in patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, and ratio of 5:1 is beneficial for people who have asthma. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you have to obtain enough essential fatty acids though your diet. Indeed, omega-3 fatty acids are fundamental for fetal growth and fetal brain development. For example, this research conducted on 341 mother-child pairs in the US shows that the mothers who ate fish more than 2 times a week had children at age of 3 with improved visual motor skills compared to mother with no fish consumption at all.

So, if you’re pregnant, don’t be shy on the fish 🙂

What Is the Recommended Daily Intake?

Recommended daily intake for healthy adults vary from different health organizations, but here is an insight:

10 Foods Packed With Omega-3

Now that you know everything about these fatty acids, here is a list of foods where you’ll find a high omega-3 concentration:

ALA

Plant-based products

DHA / EPA

Sea-based products

1Flaxseed oil, 1 tbsp7.26 g
2Chia seeds, 1 ounce5.06 g
3Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, 3 ounces1.22 g / 0.35 g
4Canola oil, 1 tbsp1.28 g
5Mackerel, Atlantic, cooked, 3 ounces0.59 g / 0.43 g
6Soybean oil, 1 tbsp0.92 g
7Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 3 ounces0.44 g / 0.40 g
8Walnuts, 1 ounce0.76 g
9Oysters, eastern, wild, cooked, 3 ounces0.14 g0.23 g / 0.30 g
10Tuna, light, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces0.17 g / 0.02 g

4 Recipes Full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids That You’ll Want to Try!  

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cherries & Candied Walnuts

This vegetarian nutritional powerhouse salad is so good for your health. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants thanks to the cherries. It is also a great source of fiber, vitamin A and C thanks to the sweet potatoes. Finally, it's crunchy and packed with omega 3s thanks to the walnuts.

Prep Time15 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time35 mins
Ingredients
 ½ cup uncooked quinoa
 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
 ½ tsp olive oil
 ¼ tsp garlic powder
 ¼ cup walnut halves & pieces
 1 cup pitted and diced sweet dark red cherries
 ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
 1 tsp coconut sugar
 1 ½ tsp coconut oil

Ingredients

Ingredients
 ½ cup uncooked quinoa
 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
 ½ tsp olive oil
 ¼ tsp garlic powder
 ¼ cup walnut halves & pieces
 1 cup pitted and diced sweet dark red cherries
 ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
 1 tsp coconut sugar
 1 ½ tsp coconut oil

Directions

1

This vegetarian nutritional powerhouse salad is so good for your health. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants thanks to the cherries. It is also a great source of fiber, vitamin A and C thanks to the sweet potatoes. Finally, it's crunchy and packed with omega 3s thanks to the walnuts.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cherries & Candied Walnuts

Get the recipe here

Maple Mustard Salmon

This recipe is packed with protein and especially, omega 3! As you may know, salmon has a high concentration of omega 3. You can add a side of dark leaf vegetables and you're good to go!

Prep Time5 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time25 mins
Ingredients
 900 g fresh salmon fillet with skin
  cup brown mustard
 1 tsp yellow mustard
 ¼ cup maple syrup
 salt and fresh ground pepper
 fresh parsley

Ingredients

Ingredients
 900 g fresh salmon fillet with skin
  cup brown mustard
 1 tsp yellow mustard
 ¼ cup maple syrup
 salt and fresh ground pepper
 fresh parsley

Directions

1

This recipe is packed with protein and especially, omega 3! As you may know, salmon has a high concentration of omega 3. You can add a side of dark leaf vegetables and you're good to go!

Maple Mustard Salmon

Get the recipe here

5 Ingredients Detox Smoothie Packed with Omega 3

This 5 ingredient superfood smoothie is perfect for a morning detox breakfast. Indeed, it's loaded with some really good stuff: fibers, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C...

Prep Time5 mins
Ingredients
 1 cup frozen berries
 1 cup organic spinach or kale
 ½ cup bananas
 1 tsp flaxseed meal
 1 cup fruit juice

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 cup frozen berries
 1 cup organic spinach or kale
 ½ cup bananas
 1 tsp flaxseed meal
 1 cup fruit juice

Directions

1

This 5 ingredient superfood smoothie is perfect for a morning detox breakfast. Indeed, it's loaded with some really good stuff: fibers, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C...

5 Ingredients Detox Smoothie Packed with Omega 3

Get the recipe here

Omega 3 Blueberry Breakfast Cookies

Here is the best way to start a lazy sunday morning: breakfast cookies! These are not regular ones as they're full of fibers, proteins and omega 3! And the more important, they're absolutely delicious 🙂

Prep Time10 minsCook Time15 minsTotal Time25 mins
Ingredients
 2 tsp melted coconut oil
 ¼ cup coconut sugar
 1 medium banana, mashed
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 ½ tsp almond extract
 1 cup flaxseed meal
 ½ cup almond meal/flour
 ½ tsp baking soda
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 ¼ cups rolled oats, gluten free if desired
 1 tsp chia seeds
 ½ cup frozen or fresh blueberries
 ¼ cup chopped walnuts
 Optional: 2oz 72% vegan dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 tsp melted coconut oil
 ¼ cup coconut sugar
 1 medium banana, mashed
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 ½ tsp almond extract
 1 cup flaxseed meal
 ½ cup almond meal/flour
 ½ tsp baking soda
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 ¼ cups rolled oats, gluten free if desired
 1 tsp chia seeds
 ½ cup frozen or fresh blueberries
 ¼ cup chopped walnuts
 Optional: 2oz 72% vegan dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

1

Here is the best way to start a lazy sunday morning: breakfast cookies! These are not regular ones as they're full of fibers, proteins and omega 3! And the more important, they're absolutely delicious 🙂

Omega 3 Blueberry Breakfast Cookies

Get the recipe here