What are Omega 3’s Good For?
Inflammation & Joints
I discovered the benefits of Omega 3’s first when I was training six days a week as a dancer. My knees were starting to feel the impact but supplementing my diet with flaxseed oil was enough to allow me to continue training. Thanks to my mother for figuring this well before it was common knowledge.
Years later in Biochemistry class I learned why this works. Dietary oils can assist with joint pain for a few reasons. Consuming more Omega 3’s in relation to saturated fats optimizes the health benefits. Both are necessary and its really the balance that’s important.
Brain & Heart Health
Good fats are incredibly important for brain function, synovial fluid, cardiovascular health and mood. Omega 3’s are excellent at reducing inflammation and can assist in the management of Type II diabetes.
These days I find myself talking with at least half of my patients about fish oil and flaxseed oil. Both will help with joint pain. Flaxseed oil is a phytoestrogen and therefore especially good for women to have as part of their diet long term. Fish oil is a better choice when treating depression or other issues with mood. I like to remind people that traditional the First Nations of this area consumed significant amounts of fish. This contributed to their ability to thrive in this bioregion.
It is important to look at third party tested fish oils. I recommend the smaller fish combinations as these will not accumulate the heavy metals that other fish might. There are some that will have a higher concentration of DHA and EFA which is what you want.
Flaxseed oil needs to be fresh and cold pressed. Use it like butter on toast or rice. It makes an excellent base for any dressing to go on steamed vegetables or salad. Add to a soup after its served for a nutty flavour. Keep it cold and never heat it as this ruins the benefits.
Its best to cook with coconut oil which keep its molecular integrity at high temperatures and is a healthy saturated fat. If you prefer the taste of olive oil add a bit of water and use a cooler temperature. Olive oil is an omega 9 unsaturated fat. Organic butter is also good.
Often I’m asked if flax seeds can be used instead of the oil. I always say in addition to. The seed is beneficial in that it is an excellent fibre but will not provided the benefits of the oil in terms of lubricating joints and balancing omega 6’s. Phytoestrogens are protective against the enviromental xenoestrogens from plastics, beauty products and cleaning agents.
Avoid Industrial Seed Oils
Keep your kitchen clear of canola, sunflower and other vegetable oils. By ensuring you have good saturated fats (coconut oil and healthy animal fats) with high doses of omega 3’s you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because “good cholesterol” or high density lipoproteins are essential for health. Some patients say they feel better within a week of increasing their omega 3 intake. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!