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Fish, Flax or Both? How do you obtain your Omega-3’s?

6.01.2012 <br> Each week Holistic Health Connection will outline healthy living tips, nutrition and information on how to sustain wellness, brought to you by the Mustard Seed and MyABC50.com.

At The Mustard Seed Natural and Organic Food Store,we find that many customers are confused as to what the difference is between fish oil and flax oil.  We find that many customers don’t realize that they are taking two different supplements for the same purpose.  Fish oil and flax oil both contain healthy fats known as omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Healthy fats are important for the health of the hair, skin, nails, joints, and eyes. Healthy fats are also important for brain function and cardiovascular health. This is why nutritional experts remind us daily that foods containing saturated fats and trans-fats need to be replaced with foods containing omega-3 rich essential fatty acids. Foods such as salmon, avocados, walnuts, and flax seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These good fats are called essential because the body cannot make the fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained through the diet.

There are three types of omega -3 essential fatty acids, ALA (alpha linoleic acid, found in walnuts, flax, and other plant based oils) and EPA/DHA (found in salmon and other fish oils). Flax oils contain ALA which must be converted to EPA and DHA in the body. Fish oils naturally contain EPA and DHA. The body does not have to convert EPA and DHA.  By including plant based oils and/or fish oils in the diet, the body can benefit from nature’s bounty of essential fatty acids.

According to the Prescription for Nutritional Healing,The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements, salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are good sources of omega-3 rich fish oil because they have a higher fat content and provide more omega-3 factors than other fishes.  For example, 4 ounces of salmon contains up to 3600 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, while 4 ounces of cod (a low-fat fish) contains only 300 milligrams.  Fish oil supplements can be found in soft gel or liquid form.  

If a person is watching their cholesterol intake or does not eat fish, flax seeds are a good alternative. According to the Prescription for Nutritional Healing, The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements, flax seeds contain no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat and calories.  Flax seeds also contain magnesium, potassium, fiber, B vitamins, protein and zinc.  Flax seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, soups, granola and salads.  Flax seeds are more easily digested when consumed in ground form.  Flax seed supplements come in soft gel or liquid form. Flax seeds and flax seed supplements are also more economical than fish oil as they tend to be much lower in price.

As you can now see, fish oil and flax oil both provide the body with omega-3 essential fatty acids. Some experts argue that the conversion of ALA(found in flax) to EPA and DHA (found in fish) is inefficient, therefor taking fish oil supplement is superior to taking a flax oil supplement.  Others argue that all fish should be avoided due to the overfishing and pollution in our oceans, therefor taking plant-based oils are superior.  It is always best to do your own research and decide which option is best for you and your particular needs. 

CLICK HERE for an Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Supplement Coupon, redeemable only at The Mustard Seed Natural and Organic Food Store located at 969 Arsenal Street in Watertown.  The Mustard Seed is the North Country’s #1 source for natural and organic food and supplements!      

References:

Prescription for Nutritional Healing – The A-to-Z Guide to Supplements by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

 

*Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. This article is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug administration. The products mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. 

 

 

 

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