These are healthy fats our body cannot produce & thus we rely on the foods we eat to get them. You may know these better as Omega 3 and 6’s. In the common western diet, we over consume Omega 6’s and under consume Omega 3’s – this trend has been documented over the past 150 years. By throwing this ratio out of whack, we put ourselves at risk of a number of health issues including: ⠀⠀
1- Heart disease and other cardiovascular problems ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
3- Dry skin
4- Fatigue, poor memory and concentration ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
5- Mood swings ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
People eating a non plant-based diet typically get these essential fatty acids from fish or fish oil tablets. The fish get the Omegas from the Algae they eat… from a plant.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If we look at how the diet has changed over the past 100 years our ancestors consumed far less Omega 6’s as a result of eating a less processed more whole food based diet. I always recommend a correction in the Omega 3/6 ratio by not only considering how to get Omega 3 in the diet but how to lower your Omega 6’s down, which inevitably means cleaning up your diet and moving away from processed foods, particularly seed oils. I have further explained the case for lowering Omega 6 intake in another blog.
Chia seeds, hemp seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, algail oil, hemp oil, flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, edamame beans and sesame seeds are all good sources of a short chain Omega 3 called ALA. Our body will convert a % of the ALA consumed to the super important long chain essential fatty acids DHA and EPA – research is now showing vegans actually adapt and get better at this conversion than people eating an animal-based diet that includes fish, which are a direct source of EPA/DHA.⠀⠀
The conversion of the plant-based omega-3 ALA to the long-chain EPA and DHA may be increased in vegans and vegetarians who do not eat fish, suggest results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) (1).
Firstly read my other blog on Plant Based Omega 3 sources for information on where to find these nutrients naturally within your whole food plant-based diet before considering supplementation.
Whilst not as important to supplement as B12, many vegans will use a vegan Omega 3 supplement in the form of a DHA/EPA Algae oil. This is the long chain Omega 3’s in a concentrated form direct from the source (no conversion needed)… cutting out the middle man (fish).⠀As always, I recommend you head to your closest health food store or jump on Amazon/iHerb and find a DHA/EPA supplement that is within your budget – look for one with EPA (60-130mg) & DHA (120-250mg). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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