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Omega-3 Fat And Your Health

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Omega-3 fats are required by the body for top health.  These amazing fats benefit every aspect of our health.  They reduce our risk for heart disease by lowering the triglycerides and small LDL particles that form plaque in the arteries.  They reduce the tendency for blood clots to form.  In the brain, omega-3 fats improve mood and concentration.  Omega-3 fats make skin smoother and hair shinier.  They reduce the risk for premature birth and benefit the well-being of infants.  In fact, the benefits are so overpowering that omega-3 fats are now being incorporated into infant formulas.  Given the overwhelming advantage of consuming these mighty protectors, how can we neglect them?   And yet in the U.S., amount of omega-3 fat in our diets is about 1/20 that of the Japanese.
 
Sources for Omega-3
Omega-3 fats are found primarily in fatty fish: wild salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. These fatty fish have the highest concentration, but all fish contain some omega-3 fat in their skin.  To give you an idea how much omega-3 fat is contained in your favorite fish, check the chart below:
 

Fish
Omega-3 Fat
Salmon (3 oz. serving)                              
1000 milligrams
Shrimp (5 oz. serving)                                
700 milligrams
Halibut (5 oz. serving)                                
600 milligrams
Anchovies (2.5 oz. serving)                      
1000 milligrams
Oysters (5 oz. serving)                                
400 milligrams
Caviar (2 oz. serving)                                 
1000 milligrams

 
Mercury in fish
Mercury in fish warrants concern.  Mercury is released into the environment from unregulated burning of coal by power plants.  Entering the oceans from rain and the rivers that flow to the sea, mercury becomes concentrated in the bodies of fish, with the larger, predatory fish acquiring the highest amounts.  Fish with the highest amounts of mercury are: King mackerel, shark, swordfish, tilefish and albacore tuna.  These fish should be consumed only in small quantities and avoided entirely by pregnant women and children as mercury toxicity attacks the developing nervous system.  One should also avoid farmed salmon as it has been shown to contain PCBs.
 
My top choice for fish is Alaskan wild salmon.  Salmon has exceptionally high amounts of omega-3 fat.  The waters of Alaska are exceptionally pure and have far less mercury than the Atlantic.  All salmon from Alaska is wild.
 
A resource that I recommend is the website: www.seafoodwatch.org. The site, run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, gives information on species of fish and makes recommendations about safety. The website has an easily downloadable card that you can print and take when you visit the grocery store.  Fish are classified as best choices, good alternatives and those to avoid.
 
Other sources for omega-3 fat
An unusual source for omega-3 fat is the egg!  An innovative approach in poultry farming is feeding chickens algae capsules and flax seed, which the chicken is able to process into long chain omega-3 fat, concentrated in the egg yolk.  Brands to look for are: Country Hen, Pete and Gerry’s, and Eggland’s Best.  Each egg yolk supplies 150-300 mg of omega-3 fat.  These egg yolks are good sources of omega-3 fat.
 
If you do not like fish, and some people do not, I suggest that you take 1500 mg to 2000mg omega-3 in supplemental form. In this regard the source of the fish is important.  Antarctica and Alaska have very clean waters.  Smaller fish, such as anchovies, are free of mercury and plentiful.  Molecular distillation is the recommended process whereby the omega-3 fat is removed from the fish oil residue.
 
Not all Omega-3 fat is the same
Omega-3 fat is present in plants, also.  Seeds, nuts and oil are valuable sources for omega-3 fat.  I have listed some sources of short chain omega-3 fats in the chart below. Incorporate these into your diet, as they are nutritionally advantageous.
 

Oils
Omega-3 mg/1 oz/ serving
Flax
2000 milligrams
Walnut
400 milligrams
 
 
Nuts
Omega-3 mg/1 oz/ serving
Walnut
190 milligrams
Hazelnut
trace amounts
Almond
trace amounts
 
 
Seeds
Omega-3 mg/1 oz/ serving
Flaxseed
550-800 milligrams
Pumpkin
250-350 milligrams
Sunflower
trace amounts
Sesame
trace amounts

 
You should be aware that the listed health benefits pertain only to the long chain omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) in fish and not to the short chain omega-3 fat (ALA) found in plants.  The benefit of long chain omega-3 fat has been recognized by the American Heart Association which recommends that we eat 2 fish meals per week.
 
My Everyday Nutrition shakes contain 700 mg. long chain omega-3 fat and have been classified as having the highest purity by independent testing.  By adding one or two shakes into your diet, you will be giving yourself a day’s worth of omega-3 fat.
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