Now we know how good Omega 3 fats are for our health, what are good Omega 3 sources?

It is now firmly established that increasing our intake of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is a very good for our health. And so, as people become aware of this, they start to search for good Omega 3 sources. Let’s examine all dietary sources of Omega 3 fatty acids so that you can decide how to add some more healthy polyunsaturated fats into your diet.

Firstly we need to understand that Omega 3 fats are not just one fat. There are in fact a number of different Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats and they have different sources. Probably the most important of these is DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is found through our bodies but in particular is a major component of the fats that make up our brain. Increasing our intake of DHA is one of the most important goals when we are seeking to increase our intake of healthy polyunsaturated fats.

Secondly is the Omega 3 fat EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). This is also very important to our health but less so than DHA.

And thirdly comes an Omega 3 fat called ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid). This is less important to our health and the other 2 Omega 3 fats for one particular reason. ALA is not synthesised directly into our body but is of benefit to our body because it can be converted into DHA. This is of course useful as it increases our supply of DHA however our body is only able convert ALA in limited amounts. Estimates range from 5 percent to 25 percent of ALA that is eaten can be converted into DHA.

Obviously, if only a small percentage of the ALA that we ingest ultimately becomes available to our body it is not as useful as the other 2.

And there are more Omega 3 fats. For example there is one called DPA, however there is only limited research done of the health benefits of DPA to date.

Therefore, for the average person, the search for good dietary sources of Omega3 fats comes down to the search for sources of DHA and EPA.

However there are special considerations for vegetarians and we shall consider those shortly.
Omega 3 Sources

So what are good DHA sources and EPA sources? Basically this comes down to fish. Fish eat various forms of microscopic algae, amongst other things, and micro algae has the 2 most important Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, and so these are present in the oil of the fish that has eaten it. It is really only fish that are able to produce substantial sources of these 2 essential fatty acids in any quantity.

That is why the initial studies done some decades ago that started to establish the health giving properties of Omega 3 fats were done on Eskimos. Eskimos eat a large amount of fish and it was found that they were particularly healthy.

They had very low rates of many of the lifestyle diseases that afflict so many people in the US such as heart disease and others and this was linked to their intake of Omega 3 fatty acids from their diet high in fish.

And so an obvious source of the Omega 3 fatty acids is to eat more fish. However this isn’t quite so easy for people who don’t eat fish, like some vegetarians. Vegetarians who don’t eat fish cannot take Omega 3 supplements made from fish either.

Let’s examine the issue as it relates to vegetarians. Some vegetarians choose to eat fish and some choose not to eat fish. Obviously those who choose to eat fish would also be happy to take daily fish oil supplements and therefore they overcome the problem of finding good clean Omega3 sources in the same way as the rest of us.

However for those vegetarians who cannot eat fish there is a particular problem. Obviously they cannot take regular fish oil supplements as the rest of us can. What can they do?

It is possible to get Omega 3 supplements using the same Omega3 sources as fish use. Fish eat micro algae and convert this into DHA and EPA. It is now possible to get Omega 3 supplements that are made from micro algae that a good EPA and DHA sources.

And of course none of us are restricted to merely taking fish oil supplements. There is more that we can do to increase our intake of Omega3 fats. There are good plant based dietary sources of Omega3 fats even though they are ALA. It is better to eat vegetables and other food sources of Omega 3 fats than not to do so even know increasing our intake of ALA is not as effective as taking fish oil.

Here are some good plant sources of Omega 3 fats. Canola oil. Flax seed oil. Soy beans and soy bean oil. Olive oil. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds. And flax seed oil supplements.

Traditionally meat and eggs have also been good sources of Omega 3 fats however modern intensive farming practices such as grain feeding have reduced the incidence of good polyunsaturated healthy fats in meat and eggs. And of course most vegetarians will also avoid eggs.

So as you can see there are plenty of good Omega 3 sources. The best way to get safe daily doses of the 2 most important fats is to take fish oil supplements. However you can also add some extra foods to your diet to increase your intake of other Omega3 fats.

However is important to understand that not all fish oil supplements are the same and that are a wide range of reasons the best fish oil supplements are both more effective and better value than many of the others.

There is no doubt that it is now clearly established by numerous scientific studies that increasing our intake of DHA and EPA is beneficial for many areas of our health.

It is up to us take the steps necessary to make these an important part of our daily diet. This will ensure that we are healthier and less prone to many of the lifestyle diseases that have afflicted so many American adults in the past. And the lifestyle diseases don’t just affect meat eaters, they can affect vegetarians as well.

However you do it make sure that you add some good Omega 3 sources to your diet everyday.

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