Omega-3 – Greens & Flaxseed or Fish & Fish Oil?

Pouring a portion of flaxseed to add to bread....

Pouring a portion of flaxseed to add to bread. Originally taken for and published in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Achieving a balance of intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 is the subject of controversy.  A prudent solution is to eat lots of greens (LNA) , as well as fish and fish oil supplements (DHA & EPA).   I would personally also suggest eating a healthy portion of flaxseed (1/2 cup of flaxseed freshly ground in a conical burr grinder with fresh or frozen blueberries and lots of almond milk) in the morning, along with freshly made vegetable juice throughout the day.  Flax seeds are very high in LNA, which can help increase the LA:LNA intake ratio, preventing the LA from overwhelming the LNA, and increasing the efficiency of the body’s conversion of LNA to DHA and EPA.  Vegetable juice is easy to drink and contains lots of anti-oxidants.  Antioxidant supplements are also suggested.

Susan Allport in The Queen of Fats has no doubt that eating lots of fish and fish oil are not the best method of increasing the ratio of Omega-3 fats in our bodies.  The first issue is that you have to eat a lot of fish to increase the ratio.  Another point she makes is that it is also important to cut back on the intake of Omega-6 fats, so that the body’s conversion of LNA to DHA and EPA is not inhibited by LA intake.  However, some people debate whether eating greens is a good way to increase the Omega-3 fats in the body, since greens only contain the parent Omega-3 fat LNA, which requires conversion into DHA and EPA, and it takes significant amounts of LNA for that conversion.  This is the basis for a preference for fish oil supplements to increase DHA and EPA, as well as eating greens to cover all the bases.  Another issue with LNA is that it is more unstable than DHA and EPA, and does not easily survive cooking, so that foods with LNA must be eaten uncooked.

I think that the greens and flax seed approach is preferable because the body should be given the means and opportunity to manufacture the appropriate amounts of DHA and EPA that an individual body may require (as well as they other important, but less obvious Omega-3 fats) rather than being forced to rely on the amounts of DHA and EPA that are optimum for fish.  In addition, greens will have the added benefit of anti-oxidant content.  But fish oil supplements can also be beneficial, especially since long term over-consumption of extra LA is stored in the body.  Many years of Omega-3 deficiency requires over-consumption of LNA to bring the ratio of fat stored back into balance.  Taking extra supplements may help speed the process of replenishing the body’s store of LNA,  thus allowing the DHA and EPA levels to return to balance.


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