Flax Seeds, Walnuts & Fish Oil – These sources can get you your Omega-3 fatty acids

flax seeds - the wonder food Source: food.ndtv.com

Discovery of a real problem forces you to seek a solution and hence get relief from it. Something similar happened earlier in September when I decided to choose flax seeds over Fish Oil for my daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids.

If you have been exercising regularly, you would know the muscle soreness that sets in within 24-48 hours after the workout has been completed. This muscle soreness is called – Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).  It turns out that a healthy dose of Omega-3 fatty acids daily can help reduce the intensity of DOMS or the post-workout muscle soreness in general.

What are Omega-3 fatty acids?

The human body is completely capable of manufacturing most types of fats it needs from other fats or some raw material itself. However, it cannot make the Omega-3 fatty acids from scratch. There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids available – Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA).

 Why do you need Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the cell membranes across the body. They affect the function of cell receptors in these membranes, provide the initial push to make hormones that eventually help blood clotting, controlling inflammation, and regulate contraction and relaxation of artery walls. Probably, because of the above functions that these n-fats perform, they have shown to prevent heart disease and stroke, control arthritis and lupus and provide a protective role for cancer as well. Healthline.com lists 17 science-based benefits of eating flax seeds daily.

What foods are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

  1. Alpha – Linolenic acid ( ALA ), is an n-fat that the body can convert into EPA and DHA is available widely through sources like – spinach, kale, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds too. The body converts the ALA into the other two n-fats including EPA and DHA. It uses naturally occurring enzymes in the body to facilitate this conversion. However, the efficiency of this conversion is low because of various factors including deficiencies of vitamins and minerals and dietary lifestyles. According to Alligga.com, About 8% to 20% of ALA consumed is converted into EPA, while 1% to 9% of the ALA consumed gets converted into DHA. Several large studies have been devoted to studying the effects of Omega-3 fatty acids on heart health and most of these have been devoted on EPA and DHA itself.
  2. EPA / DHA can be synthesized by the body from ALA consumed. The body can directly get EPA/DHA from fish. The fish eat Algae and other vegetation which is rich in EPA/DHA. So, when fish eaters eat fish about twice a week, they get their dose of these marine fatty acids. Cod, Salmon, Mackerel are a few fishes that are rich sources of EPA/DHA.



How much Omega-3 fatty acids do you need per day?

The website Healthline.com has written a beautiful article on how much Omega-3 should one consume daily.  While the best source of EPA and DHA is through fish consumption twice a week, you may consider a supplement available in the market to get your dosage of EPA/DHA on a daily basis. A general guideline is to consume 250-500 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA combined) on a daily basis to maintain health.

What supplements can you consider getting your daily dosage of EPA/DHA?

The global fish oil market is set to reach a staggering $4.08 billion dollars by 2022. That is how important your daily dosage of EPA/DHA is. There are multiple brands available in the market today that manufacture fish oil soft gels. One of the most common side effects of fish oils is Fish Burps! To avoid fish burps, there are a few brands that have created enteric coated fish oils. This means, that instead of disintegrating in your stomach, these soft gels disintegrate only after reaching the intestine.  Here is a quick review of two brands that package fish oil via soft gels.

  1. Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil – 100 tablets – Merck Pharmaceuticals manufactures the Seven Seas Cod Liver oil capsules. One of the most commonly consumed sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, the manufacturer recommends you to have 2-3 capsules per day. While the concentration of EPA/DHA could be lower than the other fish oil tablets, the Seven Seas cod liver oil capsules are fortified with essential vitamins which are Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

  1. Optimum Nutrition (ON) Fish Oil – 200 Softgels – Optimum Nutrition, The company which sells one of the most reliable whey protein isolates in the market today, also has a product called FISH OIL. Each bottle has 200 enteric coated soft gels and each soft gel contains about 300 mg of EPA/DHA combined Omega-3 fatty acids. So, if you are looking to maintain health, one soft gel a day is enough for you.

How do I get my daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids if I cannot eat fish?

Fish Oil is incredibly safe. The size of the Fish Oil industry itself speaks volumes.  Having said that, there have been some documented side effects of this source of Omega-3 fatty acids which include belching, bad breath, loose motions, a dizzy feeling till you get used to fish-oil and heartburn too. Dr.Axe lists down many wonderful benefits in this article here – Fish Oil Benefits and Possible Side Effects

If you do find that you are allergic to Fish Oil or cannot consume it as you do not eat fish, there are other sources of nuts and vegetables that can provide you your dosage of n-fats. These include Spinach, Walnuts, Flaxseeds and Chia seeds. While you can consume a handful of spinach in smoothies or as a cooked vegetable, Here’s a quick overview of the ALA content in nuts and seeds.

Walnuts 

An ounce of walnut is made of roughly 14 walnut halves and provides 2.5g of ALA. This is about 300-350 mg of your n-fat dosage.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are tremendously rich in n-fats. An ounce of chia seeds ( about two tablespoons) has about 4.9 g of ALA. This is about 500-600 mg of your n-fat dosage.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds is equally rich in n-fats too. An ounce of flax seeds ( about three tablespoons) has about 6.3 g of ALA. This is about 600-800 mg of your n-fat dosage daily.

I personally like to keep a mixture of flax seeds and walnuts handy. 1 tablespoon of flax seeds and about 2 full walnuts is what I have, twice a day to get my daily dosage of omega 3 fatty acids.

What are the benefits of eating Flax Seeds and Walnuts

  1. Flax Seeds aid in weight loss
  2. Flax Seeds help in lowering the bad cholesterol
  3. Flax Seeds consist of fiber too, thereby they aid in relieving constipation
  4. Walnuts have shown to have some cancer-fighting properties
  5. Walnuts help in weight control
  6. Walnuts aid to maintain good brain health and normalize diabetes too.

There are many ways in which you can consume Flax Seeds and Walnuts. You may add it to your smoothies or mix it with your wheat flour. You could even make Flax Seed balls as an afternoon snack. On the other hand, You can mix walnuts in your cereal or eat it simply. If you consume flax seeds in a powdered form, you will need 3 tablespoons instead of two to complete your daily quota.

Why I chose flax seeds over fish oil for Omega-3 fatty acids?

I myself was using Optimum Nutrition’s Fish Oil soft gels until I read an article of the famous celebrity dietician Rujuta Diwekar. She strongly endorses her readers to leave the fish alone for your dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. Rujuta says Mango, Beans, Nuts, Berries, varieties of rice, homemade butter and ghee are all rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and suffice to maintain daily health.

Here’s a graphic from Dr.Axe that quickly highlights similarities between flax seeds and fish oil.

The article and the graphic above rang a bell. Wouldn’t it be easier to purchase ingredients from the market & work on building tasty recipes and therefore consume all food groups for daily nutrition? Probably, this is easier said than done and might not work for everybody. With life accelerating on all accounts, it is easier to purchase your bottle of Fish Oil soft gels and get the same amount of fatty acids.



How do you get your dosage of Omega 3 fatty acids? Comment in the section below.

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