Omega-3 essential fatty acids are the essential nutrients most of our diets leave out. Even worse, most our diets provide far, far too much of the omega-6 fatty acids abundant in foods such as soybean oil-the hidden source of 20 per cent of calories in most North American diets-which cancel out omega-3 benefits. Supplementing your diet with high-quality omega-3 fish oil and limiting your consumption of other fats, however, can bring your body back into balance and support your recovery from disease.
What are omega-3 fatty acids? Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of the hormones our body uses to fight inflammation. They are so important to human health that the enzymes that process fat work on omega-3 fatty acids before they transform any other kind of fat received from digested food.
Why do we need omega-3 fatty acids? Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, meaning we need them to live and we have to get them from food or supplements. They are not made in the body from other nutrients.
Before the advent of packaged and processed foods, most of us got enough omega-3 fatty acids to balance the omega-6 fatty acids the body uses to make the hormones that increase inflammation. But when food manufacturers discovered ways to refine with soybeans with chemicals to release their oil, soybean oil became a major component of almost every North American's diet. Up to 20 per cent of all calories consumed in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia come from omega-6 fats. The percentage is highest in the USA.
Are omega-3 fatty acids "good" and omega-6 fatty acids "bad?"While it's common to refer to omega-3 fatty acids as good and omega-6 fatty acids as bad, the fact is that both kinds of fatty acids are "essential." This means they are necessary for survival and they have to obtained from food. The problem is that most of us get about 20 times more omega-6's than omega-3's. Our bodies make far more pro-inflammatory hormones than anti-inflammatory hormones.
The result is an explosion in the rates of diseases that are caused by inflammation: atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, dyslexia, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, depression, and even acne and wrinkles! All of us need some omega-6 fatty acids, but most of us need a lot more omega-3 fatty acids than we get.
What is the best way to maximize omega-3 benefits? To maximize the benefits of omega-3's in your diet, you need both to increase omega-3 consumption and to decrease omega-6 consumption. This means you need to eat foods that are rich omega-3's, such as salmon, sardines, herring, bluefish, and cod, and flaxseed oil. You need to eliminate packaged bakery goods, candies, cookies, and fast food from your diet to lower consumption of omega-6's.
You can get the omega-3's your body needs from flaxseed oil. The body can transform 1 to 10 per cent of the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in flaxseed oil into the EPA and DHA that are actually needed to make the anti-inflammatory hormones. The problem with this approach is that flaxseed oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and you will add to your omega-6 as you add to your omega-3.
Fish oil, on the other hand, contains EPA and DHA ready-made, and in the right EPA/DHA ratio. This makes fish oil a better choice over microalgae, which contain both DHA and EPA, but more EPA and less DHA than the body needs. It's important to choose a fish oil that provides enough the DHA needed for brain health in addition to the EPA needed for arterial health, such as Xtend Life.
One mass-marketed fish oil that you can buy at any WalMart in the USA contains 120 mg of DHA and 180 mg of EPA per capsule. Xtend Life contains 600 mg of DHA and 360 mg of EPA per capsule. You'd have to take 20 of the capsules you buy at WalMart to get the benefits you get from just 4 capsules of Xtend Life.
Fish oil is safe, inexpensive, and very effective for raising your body's supplies of DHA and EPA. And the right brands of fish oil can also supply you with needed CoQ10 and lycopene.