22 May 2011

Health Naturally ~ PART 2: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Source indyposted.com
Do you have an idea of the name of the grain pictured above? What if I told you that it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids? This is flaxseed. And, the same can be said about tofu, snapper and other foods.

Our discussion today focuses on the invaluable contribution made by Omega-3 fatty acids to our body. Are you getting enough? At the end of it all, maybe you will look at your grocery list a little differently!

I'm brimming with much anticipation to have you share in this discussion. It is chalked full of important and useful lifestyle information. So, onto Part II of Health Naturally!

Click below to read more of this important feature!


I am so happy to welcome back Kareen, a Registered Dietitian and lovely blogger of Loczurious and iameatingright.

Kareen: Thank you for having me back!

Naturaleza: It's my pleasure. My first question would have to be - What are Omega-3 fatty acids?
Kareen: Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fats, are essential to the human body. Meaning that we have to get them from food as our bodies cannot produce all of what we need. There are two major types of Omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic. You are probably most familiar with them as EPA and DHA. The other type is alpha-linolenic acid - ALA.

Naturaleza: What makes them so important to the functioning of the human body?
Kareen: Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for brain function and normal development and growth. These fatty acids play an important role from even before birth! Without adequate intake, a pregnant woman increases the risk of her unborn infant developing nerve and vision problems. In adults, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids may show itself as fatigue, poor memory, heart problems, mood swings, depression and dry skin.

Naturaleza: This is interesting! Many times we might attribute the appearance of some of these things - dry skin or even our poor memory, to age or just a natural occurrence. I know I do especially with fatigue. How then do we eliminate other contributing factors and just zone in on increasing our intake of Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods?
Kareen: I believe in a holistic approach to overall health. First, eliminate the obvious: are you rested? I don't just mean sleeping hours but also, do you have time to de-stress? Do you have to change your skincare regimen? Sometimes as seasons change and even as we age, our skincare needs a change, too. If you are able to say that, "yes, I think I have controlled the other contributing aspects", then start to look at your diet. Are you eating foods containing Omega-3? Do you need to increase the frequency of your intake? Fortunately, the amount required to achieve the benefits of Omega-3 is not large. So, even having a handful of raw walnuts to your diet daily can lead to a noticeable difference.

While there is convincing evidence of the benefits of adequate Omega-3 intake on mood and depression, please seek the assistance of a physician specializing in this area. No-one should self-diagnose or treat.

Naturaleza: Always an important point to remember! 
Now, what are Omega-6 Fatty acids? Are they the same as Omega-3's?
Kareen: Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential so you need to obtain them from your diet. They are both polyunsaturated. Where they differ is that too much Omega-6 fatty acids have been found to lead to inflammation while the opposite is true of omega-3. Omega-6 is also much more abundant in the diet than Omega-3. Optimal health involves a balance between the two – approximately 2:1 to 4:1.

Naturaleza: Inflammation? What exactly do you mean?
Source whfoods.com
Kareen: Inflammation in this context is swelling. Well regarding Omega-6, inflammation maybe a contributing factor to heart disease. Omega-3's on the other hand, are heart healthy and lead to a decrease of inflammation. That's why the balance between the two is so critical. 

Naturaleza: What foods are good sources of Omega-3 Fatty acids?
Kareen: Food sources of Omega-3 acids include salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Vegetarian sources include flaxseeds, walnuts, tofu, soybeans and olives.

The recommended daily amount for healthy adults, from the World Health organization: is 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA combined; and, 0.8-1.1 of alpha-linolenic acid. For specific recommendations, please speak with your physician. 

Do you have to take out a scale? Luckily no! Eating fish two to three times a week will help you meet this goal. Including non-meat options, such as flaxseed and walnuts, daily in handful amounts will also help you achieve the recommended intake.

If you’re purchasing flaxseed, oil or ground is the best source as humans have a difficult time chewing the seed itself to a pulp which is when we get the benefits. If you choose to use flaxseed oil, please be sure to store it in the refrigerator to keep it from becoming rancid. 

Source walnutinfo.com
Naturaleza: Now let's switch a bit and talk about Omega-3 and its benefits to hair. Is there any real upside?
Kareen:  Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. Too little intake of Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to a dry scalp. This in turn leads to the appearance of dull hair. Omega-3 won’t make your hair thicker or grow faster but it can help to improve its overall feel and luster.

Salmon is an excellent healthy hair food! Keep your intake to the recommended two to three servings a week. A handful of walnuts and one to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil daily can also help. But these things happen over time not like an instant pill!

Naturaleza: Isn't it better to consume foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty acids as opposed to taking the capsules? Or, is there no real difference in which method one chooses?
Kareen: Omega-3 dietary supplements are available and are a good alternative to meet the daily recommended amount. You should speak with your physician before adding any supplements to your daily routine. While they are considered non-medicinal, supplements can interact with medication that you are already taking.

Thinking of trying something new? Here is a salmon recipe to get you going! 
This Salmon and Pasta dish is taken from Food Network channel and one of its stars - Giada de Laurentiis! Neither Kareen nor I have tried and tested this recipe.

The photo below is taken from the relevant recipe as well.

It has a prep and cook time of 10 mins each. And serves 4 persons. 

As they say - Buen provecho!

Now, should you try this, I would love to hear and for that matter, see your creations! I'm serious! Don't be bashful either.

We thank you so much for the feedback on Part I! And, I have to say thank you to all faithful .::Naturaleza::. readers and a big WELCOME to all new readers!! That you actually stopped by is great; but that you also subscribe: I truly appreciate it! Thank you for your encouragement! 


  1. Iameatingright23 May 2011 at 00:42

     Thanks for putting it all together!

  2. Naturalezablog23 May 2011 at 05:56

    My pleasure!

  3. I love that! My blog is also health! But with more twist to it! I use flaxseed every day it's so beneficial most people just don't know about it! Stop by and join too www.goodhealthdiva.blogspot.com

    Got a question not related to this article? do you have any article with pictures of Barbados and of local recipes? One of my best friends in College was from Barbados! (smiles)

  4. Naturalezablog24 May 2011 at 19:26

    Thank you! Yes, flaxseed is healthy and helpful. Re: the articles with photos, yes I have a post entitled: Barbados...naturally! The link is below. Now, what type of recipes are you desirous of? Are they for your blog or to try? Let me know. I was looking a newly released cookbook up to Sunday so I'll see what I can do.
    Btw, I love the cards and packages on your second site. Beautiful!

  5. i'm going to have to digest this some more---but it gives me ideas for those important foods that I will need to include once i restart solids in 4 weeks...

  6. Naturalezablog25 May 2011 at 17:47

    True there is much to consider. But, you have some time to come by and read through again.


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