I thought it might be helpful to review some tips for increasing your omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Remember that omega-3 fatty acids are the "good fatty acids" that help your cells remain healthy, pliable, and strong. By contrast, omega-6 fatty acids are the "bad fatty acids" that contribute to cells becoming less pliable, and that contribute to red blood cells getting stuck and clogging arteries.
Of course, there are really no "good" or "bad" fatty acids. The truth is that if we didn't have any omega-6 fatty acids, we couldn't survive! It is the balance of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids that is so important. The average American diet consumes 10-30 omega-6 fatty acids for every one omega-3 fatty acid. Scientists generally belive that humans are designed to function optimally when the food they consume has a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 1:1 or 2:1, but no higher than 4:1. This wildly skewed ratio has been blamed for contributing to and perhaps being the cause of heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States, and to other diseases as well.
Here are some tips, adapted from my book, "The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis." As January 2009 becomes February, March and on until then December, let's all try to keep our New Year's resolutions. Keep a healthy diet -- you'll feel better and your body will thank you!
1. Eat small, cold water fish, such as wild salmon and light canned tuna, 2-4 times per week. If you are pregnant, nursing, or thinking of becoming pregnant, limit your weekly fish and shellfish consumption to 12 ounces or less of canned light tuna, shrimp, and salmon.
2. Use oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, canola, olive, and primrose seed.
3. Cut down on processed foods and animal fat that contain pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
4. Eat green leafy vegetables and tofu to supplement your omega-3 fatty acid consumption.
5. If you have no contraindications, and only after a discussion of the pros and cons with your physician, consider taking fish oil, evening primrose seed oil, flaxseed oil, or borage seed oil supplements. Remember that these supplements may interact with certain medications and so be sure to talk to your doctor first. Also, all of these supplements can have a blood thinning effect so, again, be sure to talk with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to take one or more of them.
Published On: January 14, 2009