Essential Fatty Acids: 8 Great Reasons to Give Yourself An Oil Change

If your skin feels dry, your mind is a bit hazy or you’ve got some unwanted aches and pains, it may be time for an “oil change”.

And while you might not dream of putting poor quality oil in your car’s engine, most Americans are sputtering along on a diet filled with bad fat. The result is inflammation: the fire at the core of chronic disease.

The good news is that it is easy to include a few key foods in your diet that supply the critical omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA.

To help you get your share, try my Sockeye Salmon Salad with Tarragon and Capers. It’s a fast and delicious alternative to tuna salad, but made with rich sockeye salmon, naturally low in mercury.

Here Are Eight Great Reasons to Get Your Omega-3s!
Recent research shows that EPA and DHA:

  1. Play a key role in fetal brain development and healthy pregnancies
  2. Improve cognitive function and other neurological problems
  3. Fight depression
  4. Lower markers of inflammation like CRP and IL-6
  5. Raise HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) and lower triglycerides (blood fats)
  6. Help heal chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
  7. Reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis
  8. Influence gene expression toward optimal healt

It turns out fat not only makes food taste great but it also forms the base structure of our cell membranes, neurons and a range of chemical messengers that either promote inflammation or reduce it. The quality of the oils we eat matters!

Omega-3 fats are so important they’re considered “essential fatty acids”, meaning our bodies can’t make them, so they must be consumed through the food we eat.

Unfortunately, Americans have the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids of any developed country!

The EPA and DHA in fish, walnuts and flax seeds drive the production of anti-inflammatory compounds, while the omega-6 oils (present in vegetable oils like corn, soy and safflower oil) increase the production of pro-inflammatory compounds.

Sadly, our diets have evolved over the past 100 years to have more omega-6 oils, since they’ve been used extensively by the processed food industry, replacing omega-3s. Let’s change that!

Remember, the fish with the highest concentration of omega-3 fats are the wild SMASH fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring), which also have the lowest mercury content.

Unfortunately, we can’t get quite enough of these oils from the plant kingdom, because the enzymes that convert ALA (alpha-linolenic acid in flax and walnuts) into EPA are very inefficient. So by all means include nuts and seeds in your diet, but eating 1-2 servings of fish each week ensures you get the recommended levels of these essential fatty acids.

If you are a vegetarian, hate fish or completely avoid fish due to concerns about the mercury content, then you should consider taking pure fish oil supplements that provide at least 2,000 mg. of EPA and 500-1,000 mg. of DHA to achieve therapeutic benefits. I recommend Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega.

I love the canned sockeye salmon from Vital Choice and use it to whip up my Sockeye Salmon Salad! I often make it in the morning for a quick lunch, but it’s so good we sometimes gobble it up for breakfast on a gluten-free cracker!

Call me paranoid (or just prepared), but I buy this canned salmon by the case, so I always have a clean protein source on hand for emergencies, like earthquakes, storms or unexpected guests! I get the kind with the skin and bones because those rich essential fatty acids are concentrated in the fatty layer just beneath the skin, and the bones provide a great source of calcium (and, it’s a bit less expensive).

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