Yes, Omega 3 Fats are Paleo!
Understanding Omega Fatty Acids
Fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with long chain which is either saturated or unsaturated. Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are long chain in structure that easily breaks down in the intestine and are used to aid in cell growth, healthy immune system and brain development. They can be found in both animal and plant sources.
Omega fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential fats (EFAs) that the human body needs to function. These cannot be produced by the body; hence the only source is food. As long as both Omega 3 and 6 are present in the diet, they can be synthesized by body.
In this article, we will focus more on Omega 3 fats.
Types of Omega-3
There are three types of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids: ALA (alpha linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
ALA is usually found in plant oils and is rich in seeds such as flax, chia, and hemp and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach. It can also be converted by to body to EPA and DHA but limited.
Both EPA and DHA can be found on marine oils and high in amounts in cold water oily fish like sardines, salmon and herring. They can also be acquired from pastured meats and eggs but in lesser amount. EPA and DHA are natural anti-inflammatory agents and play a role in heart and brain health.
Sources of Omega-3
As we mentioned above, Omega 3 fats can be acquired from both animal and plant sources. But the best source would be from fish. Some varieties have higher doses of Omega 3s than others. The top choices to get higher levels of Omega 3 are salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, lake trout, sardines, swordfish and tuna.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens and broccoli can also supply Omega 3s too. Some nuts and seeds can be a good source of Omega 3 such as walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, chia and flax. Other healthier choices include avocados, free-range eggs and grass-fed beef.
If you are not a fan of fish and vegetables, you can opt to fish oil. When choosing the right fish oil, consider the following factors: purity, freshness, potency, nutrients, bioavailability, sustainability and cost.
Benefits of Omega-3
Omega 3 fatty acids are good fats and offer a number of benefits that’s why it is highly recommended to be incorporated especially in the Paleo diet.
- Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. It can either reduce the risk or reverse inflammation. It prevents swelling and incapacitation of tissues
- Omega 3 can promote heart health. This can lower the levels of triglycerides in the blood and help lower the risk of heart diseases such as abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure and stroke
- It can improve mood regulation and better behavioral functioning
- Lower the risk of depression, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer
- Promotes healthier and stronger bones
- Improves mental health, brain function, memory and cognition and reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have shown that omega 3 can ease the symptoms of ADHD
Too Much Omega 3 Is Also Bad…
Omega 3 fatty acids come with a variety of health benefits. But consuming high doses is not good for the body. It can cause problems such as altered immune function that can lead to slower response to infection and even prostate cancer.
As the song goes, “Too much of something is bad enough!” Limit your consumption as to what you think is needed by the body.
Click here to see what other oils are Paleo approved.
What Experts Say About Omega 3 Fats.. Are They Paleo?
“In addition to reducing the risk for heart disease, regular consumption of fish or supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in preventing, treating, or improving a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including but not limited to virtually all inflammatory diseases (any disease ending with “itis”), rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), periodontal disease (gingivitis), mental disorders (autism, depression, postpartum depression, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, impaired cognitive development in infants and children), acne, asthma, exercise induced asthma, many types of cancers, macular degeneration, pre-term birth, psoriasis, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cancer cachexia, intermittent claudication, skin damage from sunlight, IgA nephropathy, lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches.” – Dr. Loren Cordain
“..the more omega-3 fat you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation.” – Chris Kresser
“Supplementing your diet with a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement is, in our estimation, one of the best things you can do for your body.” – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Omega 3 Fats and Paleo
Chris Kresser. How too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is making us sick
Mark’s Daily Apple. More on Omega
Chris Kresser. Why fish stomps flax as a source of omega-3
Mark’s Daily Apple. The Definitive Guide to Fish Oils
The Paleo Diet. Omega 3 Fatty Acid Content of Fish and Seafoods
Chris Kresser. How much omega-3 is enough? That depends on omega-6.
The Paleo Diet. Omega-3 VS. Omega-6: Rethinking the Hypothesis
Paleo Leap. Fish Oil and Paleo
Ultimate Paleo Guide. The Ultimate Paleo Guide To Fish Oil: Omega-6 & Omega-3
Robb Wolf. Fish Oil
Mark’s Daily Apple. Why the Omega-3/Omega-6 Ratio May Not Matter After All
Paleo Diet ++. Paleo Guide to Fish Oil
Whole 9. Whole9’s Official Fish Oil (Omega-3) FAQ
Omega 6 and 3 in nuts, oils, meat and fish. Tools to get it right.
Living Paleo. Omega 3 Fish Oil
Paleo Blog. Good Omega-3 Fat Food Sources
Oregon State University. Excess omega-3 fatty acids could lead to negative health effects
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photo credit: Product Photography – Omega 3 6 9 – Top down