Omega-3s have been in the news quite a bit lately.
It’s not that researchers are just discovering how good they are for us, it’s more that people are becoming more and more aware of how healthy they are.
Recently the American Heart Association wrote a study called “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce the incidence of CVD (cardiovascular disease) Evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that EPA+DHA supplementation ranging from 0.5 to 1.8g/d (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduced subsequent cardiac and all-cause mortality.
The statement went on to to note that Omega-3s can also:
- decrease triglycerides
- lower blood pressure
- improve cholesterol by increasing HDL and decreasing LDL,
- improve endothelial function
- reduce blood clotting
- decrease stroke and heart failure risk
- reduce cardiac arrhythmias
- reduce inflammation that can damage artery lining that can lead to atherosclerosis.
As you’ll notice their research discussed fish oil.
What many people have done is increasingly is turned to vegetarian sources of Omega-3.
Alas that just isn’t going to cut it as not all Omega-3 are created equal
You might not know but there are three kinds of Omega-3.
They are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
ALA is what’s found in most vegetarian products, things like flax, hemp, chia, pumpkin etc.
And your body doesn’t really know what to do with ALA. What it wants to do is take ALA and then convert it into EPA and DHA.
But it can’t.
In fact in the process of conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA you might actually lose DHA…which is obviously not beneficial in the long run.
Now the other two, DHA and EPA are the usable forms of Omega-3 your body depends on and they’re typically only found in animal products. T
If you’ll look back at the study you’ll see it specifically references EPA and DHA and fish oil and fish consumption.
Now you can also get EPA and DHA from other animal sources (like pasture raised meats, eggs, wild game) but for the most part the only way to get them is if you eat animals that have taken ALA and then converted it into EPA and DHA themselves.
Hence the reason for fish oils and the frequent advice to eat more fish.
BUT, what scientists have recently discovered is there’s actually one vegetarian source of EPA and DHA.
Care to guess what it might be?
Phytoplanktons and microalgaes…exactly what many fish eat on a daily basis.
So what does that mean for you?
Well nothing really if you like to eat meat.
But for vegetarians and vegans it’s good news because it means they can now depend on vegan sources of Omega-3.
Companies have already gone through the process of creating EPA and DHA supplements using both Phytoplanktons and microalgaes.
So if you want to keep your meat consumption down, don’t want to depend on fish oil, and are trying to be healthy, you’re in luck.