Fish and Omega-3

Critical need for Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Diet

Books about Hawaii Life





 

 

 

Researchers are pointing to the lack of Omega-3 fatty acids in processed foods and meats (due to lack of grass in livestock feed) as one of the unhealthy changes in the average American diet. Researchers are linking cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases to low levels of this essential fatty acid.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are used to build the membranes of our cells.   Omega-3s make the cell membranes soft, supple  and conduct cell to cell signals well. They also help produce an enzyme that destroys cancer cells.

For healthy cells we need to eat an equal amount (or at least close to equal amount) of Omega-3s and Omega-6s fatty acids.  Cell membranes made without Omega-3s are brittle and inhibit water molecules from passing through them. They are prone to having cholesterol stick to their surface, increase clot formation, and are  being blamed for the formation of arteriosclerosis.

While sources of Omega-6s are plentiful in vegetable oils and nuts, getting an equal amount of Omega-3s can be a challenge. Beef, cheese, eggs and butter used to have Omega-3s, but when corn feed was substituted for Omega-3 rich grass feed the Omega-3 content in these foods disappeared.  

Many of the healthy unsaturated oils have substantially more Omega 6s than Omega-3s, making it impossible for many Americans to get an equal ratio.
A tablespoon of olive oil has 102 mg of Omega-3s and 1318 mg of Omega-6 and 3 grams of walnuts has 262 mg  of Omega-3s and 1012 mg of Omega-6s. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, basil, and grape leaves have high percentages of Omega-3s, but the amounts are very small in a serving (1/2 cup of spinach has only 350 mg of omega-3s) so  you would have to eat huge amounts to make up for the excessive Omega-6s in even one tablespoon of vegetable oil.

The average ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s in the US diet is 25 to 1.  Less than 40% of Americans are getting enough Omega-3s and over 25% have no trace at all of Omega-3 in their blood.

The best source of Omega 3 fatty acids is in fish such as tuna, salmon, or sardines and fish oil. An ounce of Salmon, for example, has 600 mg of Omega-3s and only 219 mg of Omega-6s.

Flax seed has a higher percentage of Omega-3s and flax seed oil is even better with one tablespoon containing  7196 mg of Omega-3s and 1715 mg of Omega-6s.  We have read that the Omega-3's in flax seed are not absorbed by the body as well as fish oil.

Grass-fed beef, is affordable and plentiful on Hawaii Island and has an almost equal ratio of Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Macademia Nuts have the most Omega-3's of nuts and are plentiful in Hawaii. Omega-3 rich, fresh caught fish is available at the dock and stores in Hawaii year round.

Back to Top

Copyright 2011-14