One of the common questions I get is “what’s the difference between omega 3, 6, and 9, and which one do I need to take?”
The difference lies in the position of the first double bond from the methyl end, or the omega end of the carbon chain. Omega 3 has it’s double bond at the 3rd position, Omega 6 at the 6th position and Omega 9 at the 9th……still reading? Ok, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet! The three omega’s are also made up of different essential fatty acids and it is those fatty acids that determine what therapuetic properties each omega exerts. All of them are good for us, infact they are essential, hence the name essential fatty acids.
Main components of Omega 3, 6, 9
|alpha-linolenic acid ALA
|Linolenic acid LA
|Oleic acid OA
|eicosapentaenoic acid EPA
|Dihomogamma linolenic acid DLA
|docosahexaenoic acid DHA
|Gamma-linolenic acid GLA
|Arachidonic acid AA
Are you getting enough Omega’s?
If you are eating 3 serves of fish weekly, plenty of nuts and seeds, vegetable oils like oilve and flaxseed, then you may be getting enough from your diet. The other important question is are you getting the right ratio of Omega 3, 6 and 9? Without the balance of Omega 3, Omega 6 and 9 actually fuel inflammation, making arthritis, heart disease, skin conditions, menstrual cramping, and generalised pain worse.
For ideal health we need an Omega 3 to Omega 6/9 ratio of 1:2. Unfortunately todays western diets provide abundant Omega 6 and 9 in red meat, convenience and packaged foods, giving the average person a whopping ratio of 1:10! For that reason anyone with a condition made worse by inflammation needs to boost their Omega 3 significantly with a fish oil supplement (as well as working on their diet!).
Cod Liver oil
Grandma was right! The absolute best way to get Omega 3 is the old fashioned way. Aswell as the fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA , cod liver oil contains the vitamins A and D which are often lacking in our diets. I prefer clients to take it in liquid form which often leads to stories about gagging on the stuff as kids! I reckon alot of the oil used in years gone by wasn’t particularly pure and perhaps even rancid – yuk! We know alot more about the importance of refidgeration of these oils and the manufacturing processes are amazingly advanced too. Good quality fresh oil tastes fine – I promise!
A great balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9, flaxseed oil is naturally the right ratio for health. I encourage people to add it to their diets as a culinary oil rather than using it as a medicine as such. It is great in salad dressings, in smoothies (see below) and you can even mix it up with the same amount of butter for a healthier spread. It is a good source of the Omega’s for vegetarians and vegans.
If you want to supplement with an Omega, which one should you take?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
This is a time of increased need and studies have concluded that particulary DHA is required in higher amounts. Supplements with a higher proportion of DHA to EPA are now available for this reason.
Heart disease, arthritis, mestrual pain, joint pain, skin inflammation
EPA and DHA are both very important for the above conditions. It seems that a higher proportion of EPA is best though. Cod liver oil would be best in this situation as it is naturally higher in EPA. Add evening primose oil for menstrual pain.
ADHD, depression, memory, learning disorders, alzheimers
A higher proportion of DHA is important here. This can be found in many supplement forms.
If you don’t have any health problems but want to delay a family propensity to arthritis, depression, heart disease, or an age related degenerative disease, you could take Cod Liver oil (2,000 mg daily) and add flaxseed oil to your daily diet (1Tbsp.)
If you have any questions relating to your specific situation don’t hesitate to contact me : )
Red Quinoa with baked Tomatoes and Courgettes
This recipe came to my attention through the Organic vege box company Crowes Nest Organics www.crowsnest.co.nz
It is YUM!
Serves 3 / Takes 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp manuka honey
1-2 tsp seseme seeds
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 cup red quinoa (you can find this at Huckelberry’s, Ceres etc)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp miso paste or tamari sauce
3/4 cup very finely sliced cabbage
1. Place tomatoes haves and courgettes sliced lengthways on a baking tray. Drizzle with oilive oil and manuka honey, sprinkle sesame seeds and ginger on top, then bake at 200 degrees for 20mins. Grill to brown if necessary.
2. prepare red quinoa by boiling for approximately 15 mins with the salt in 2 cups pf water until evaporated and the grain becomes nutty and tender.
3. prepare avocado cream by blending with extra tomato, lemon juice and miso (or tamari) until smooth and creamy. Add fresh basil if available.
4. Serve quinoa with baked vegies on a bed of very finely sliced cabbage with tangy avocado cream.
Sometimes I reccommend smoothies to clients that are not big fans of breakfast or who need to get more protein into their daily diet. I have been falling back on this smoothie alot this summer, takes care of that craving for icecream!
A handful of ice
A handful of frozen berries
A dollop of natural yoghurt (biofarm, cyclops or de winkels is best)
A serving of proten powder (I prefer a product called “Raw Paleo and Lacuma” because it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or thickeners. You can get it from health stores, or from me).
Optional: A Tblsp of Flaxseed oil makes it nice and creamy and even better for you.