Your body requires dietary fats (Lipids). Fat provides essential fatty acids that the body can’t produce on its own and must be consumed through polyunsaturated fats in our diet. Polyunsaturated fats provide two essential fatty acids:
1⃣ Linoleic Acid (LA) - Omega-6
2⃣ Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Omega-3
The U.S Institute of Medicine recommends an daily ALA intake of 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women. Diets should aim for a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1 of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The western diet, which is high in refined oils, consumes far too much Omega-6. Today, most people are averaging a ratio of 10:1 and even 20:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3.
But is eating more fish the the answer to balance? Not necessarily. Fish don’t manufacture long chain Omega-3. Their diet is high in Omega-3 rich plant foods like algae. They eat them which their body converts to DHA and EPA. We can go straight to the source and avoid the host of health and environmental troubles that come from consuming fish. Fish oil is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. They’re highly concentrated sources of contaminants and pollutants. More recently, studies have shown that eating fish and taking fish oil supplements are not as beneficial to the brain and heart functions as previously thought. In fact, fish has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Consuming fish products is not sustainable as it leads to overfishing which impacts the entire eco system.
Another contributing factor to the decline of animals as sources of Omega-3 comes from our farming practices. Today people are eating meats, dairy products, and eggs that contain far fewer of these needed nutrients. John Robbins writes that “You’d have to eat 20 of today’s supermarket eggs to get as much omega 3’s as are provided by a single egg from a free range chicken.”
You can get your daily serving of Omega-3 by incorporating flaxseeds, chia seeds, kiwi, walnuts, kale, and other leafy greens into your diet. Unlike fish oil, flaxseed oil can be used in salad dressing which provide an easy way to ingest significant doses. Many factors can hinder the body’s ability to convert omega-3 fatty acid to DHA and EPA, which is why it’s important to avoid overly processed foods and make sure you’re getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients in your diet. Vegan diets lacking Omega-3 may want to take DHA-rich micro algae supplements. Conversion is easier when you balance with healthy sources of Omega-6 rich foods like sesame seeds, tahini, edamame, wheat germ, and tofu. #VegansofIG