Most of us know about omega-3 fatty acids and that they are great for our health – if we get enough of them. What most of us don’t know is why they are so important and how we can best get them. However, with the improvement of our own health we don’t want to wreck the health of the planet. Let have a look at how to get omega-3s whilst taking into account sustainability…
This is why omega-3 is important
First of all, what is the importance of omega-3s? Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Our bodies do not produce these essential fatty acids. This means we have to obtain them from our diets or through supplementation.
There a different types of omega-3s. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that converts in the body to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In the image below the health benefits of EPA and DHA are shown.
Health benefits of omega-3
Simply put, omega-3s are highly important for our health. They are said to boost brain function, improve skin condition, promote weight loss, counter depression and promote longevity. Omega-6s are important for our health as well, but in excess they promote inflammation in the body. For a healthy state in the body, an adequate balance between these fatty acids is necessary.
In modern western diets most people do not have the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s in the body should be around 1:1, however, in western diets it was found in a study from 2006 to be 1:16!
This means that we ingest way too much omega-6 from refined vegetable oils and processed food and not enough omega-3.
Where to find Omega-3
You can find Omega-3 in fatty fish (go for sustainable fish), algae-based foods such as nori sheets, flaxseeds (or flaxseed oil) and hempseeds (or hempseed oil) and smaller amounts in eggs, strawberry, kiwi and broccoli.
Another way to get more omega-3 is by taking supplements. These can be taken in the form of algae oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil and kril oil. We will go on further into the difference between the consequences of taking fish oil versus taking algae oil.
Fish oil is derived from the bodily tissues of oily fish. It contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaeonic acid (DHA). The fish -that is used as the source of the fish oil- does not produce omega-3 fatty acids but accumulates it by consuming algae directly or through prey fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids. This realization brought us to the next point…
Best choice for Omega-3: Algae Oil
What is the BEST choice?… Algae Oil!
In the documentary from 2009 called ‘At the end of the line’ the trend on global fishing is shown. It shows that there is an increasing demand for fish has lead to a shift in the ocean’s eco-systems. This shift has various hazardous effects on our planet and consequently the health of our children. Have a look at this infographic to understand overfishing in 1 minute.
Since the fish get the omega-3 from the algae, we could be taking algae instead of fishing the oceans dry! Luckily, algae are abundantly available. Algae oil is the environmentally friendly and animal friendly choice to improve your omega-3 and omega-6 balance. Why not skip the step where the fish eats the algae and simply eat the algae ourselves? Great for the world, great for you!
Dutch manufacturer of fish free omega-3 supplements: http://www.testa-omega3.com/
“The end of the line” documentary excerpt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p0Nk8yiUjM
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332206002435 (study on ratio omega 3-6)
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcidsandHealth-HealthProfessional/ (8 evidence-based reviews)
http://www.p-plus.nl/nieuws/testa-visolie (fishless fish oil – in Dutch)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1176727/ (“The end of the line” documentary on imdb)