|(ARA) - Low fat, no fat and now they say to eat more fat?
Over the years, Americans have been fed different stories about choosing the right foods for optimum health. When researchers warned that too much fat in your diet leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and a host of other health problems, Americans jumped on the low fat, no fat bandwagon with little success.
New studies reveal that we must have some fat in our diet for good health and reduction of disease. The omega-3 fatty acids are said to be “essential” because they can not be produced by the body and must be obtained through our food sources..
*What are omega-3s?
Omega-3 essential fatty acids can come from either plant or marine sources. They can be found in fish and fish oil, unrefined vegetable oils, raw nuts, seeds and beans. Linolenic acid, the marine source, can be found in certain fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon. These fish and fish oil supplements contain bioavailable docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acid, the two kinds of omega-3 essential fatty acids crucial to good health.
The plant based omega-3 essential fatty acid is alpha linolenic acid (alpha meaning plant) and can be found in omega-3 rich oils such as flaxseed, canola, soybean and walnut oils. These plant sourced omega-3 EFAs don’t metabolize in the body like fish oil. They need to be broken down by the body’s enzymatic system into DHA and EPA before the body can reap its powerful benefits. Flaxseed oil, the plant source highest in omega-3s, is a great alternative for vegetarians and those who can’t tolerate fish or fish oil capsules.
In Dr. Walter Willett’s book, “Eat, Drink & Be Healthy,” he writes: “Given the wide ranging importance and benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, everyone should try to eat at least one good source of them a day.”
The omega-3 essential fatty acid is a key component of cell membranes throughout the body, especially the eye, brain and central nervous system. This important fat is the building block of hormones, including those that regulate blood clotting, artery walls and inflammation. A recent study indicated that the omega-3 EFA from fish reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and can reduce the risk of stroke as well.
Fish oil has been found to increase circulation and reduce insulin sensitivity; but most importantly, diabetics who ate more fish had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease and total death than those who didn’t eat fish. Fish oils have proven beneficial for people suffering many disorders including depression, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes and lupus. It also helps keep hair, skin and nails healthy.
On a grand scale, omega-3s play a vital role in health. Doctors and researchers have been studying the benefits for years. Now the government and the important organizations are also emphasizing the need for good fats in the diet.
Last November, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a release stating, “omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart health of healthy people, people at high risk of cardiovascular disease and patients with cardiovascular disease.” The organization recommends that Americans eat fatty fish, such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon, at least twice a week. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources such as flaxseed, canola, soybean and walnut oils is also highly recommended.
Recently, the White House Executive Office sent a letter to the Department of Health & Human Services and the USDA requesting the departments promote the consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acids. The request has been made to add omega-3 essential fatty acids to the new dietary guidelines for Americans, scheduled to be released in 2005. The Executive Office has also asked that omega-3s be incorporated on the soon to be updated 1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid.
The American Heart Association urges Americans to eat fatty fish to get an adequate intake of omega-3s into their diet. Take caution when choosing these fatty fish, as sometimes they are laden with contaminants such as mercury, PCBs and lead. Supplements can be taken if omega-3 rich fish or plants sources aren’t readily available. Before purchasing fish oil supplements it is important to look at the label to make sure it is PCB, mercury and lead free.
“Product quality and consumer health are number one for Spectrum. Every lot of fish oil we encapsulate is tested to be free of PCBs, mercury, lead and dioxins,” says Neil Blomquist , CEO of Spectrum Organic Products, Incorporated. “It would be absurd for us to supply consumers with heart healthy fish oil that contained deadly toxins.”
Flaxseed, canola, walnut and soybean oils can be incorporated into salad dressings for their omega-3 benefits.
Incorporating omega-3 essential fatty acids into your diet, whether by marine or plant source is a good start to a healthier way of eating and living. Reducing your intake of saturated fat and trans fats, exercising and eliminating stress are just as important.
Spectrum Organic Products carries a natural and healthy line of trans fat free shortening, margarine, spreads, culinary oils and essential fatty acid nutritional supplement line including PCB mercury free fish oil and organic flaxseed oil. You can find their products in natural food stores and select chain stores across the United States. For more information log onto www.spectrumnaturals.com or call (800) 995-2705.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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