|Roll the dice - Viva Omega!|
It feels a little bit like we're in Vegas. First they rolled a 3 and put the number behind the very popular omega 3's. But wait - they rolled the dice again and there were omega 6's. Then again - and there were omega 9's! I'm waiting for the unveiling of the new omega 12's!!!
The difference in the three comes down to molecular structure. Now, I'm not a scientist, but as I understand it, all fat is made up of fatty acids, and all fatty acids are composed of chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. At the molecular level, some fatty acids have long, fatty tails that bend in different directions. Some are straight with no double bonds, or unsaturated fats, also referred to as monounsaturated fats, which have one double bond; and the polyunsaturated fats, meaning there's more than one double bond.
Fatty acid names and numbers correspond to the number of carbon atoms they contain, and determine where and how they bond and twist together with hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Omega 3, 6 and 9 are all unsaturated fatty acids with double bonds in the 3, 6, or 9 positions.
Omega 3's: Of all of these, the omega-3's are the most important for good health. Because they tend to suppress inflammation in the body, they are key to overall wellness. Inflammation is the cause of many of the degenerative diseases that plague us. Omega 3's counter the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-6's.
The parent molecule for omega-3 fatty acids is alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Our bodies cannot produce this on their own, which is why it's so important to purposefully include omega-3's through supplementation or diet. Unfortunately, in our Western diet the omega-3's are sorely lacking. So we take fish oil caplets or incorporate foods such as wild-caught salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout, anchovies, walnuts, flaxseed and green leafy vegetables.
Omega 6's: The parent molecule of the Omega-6 family is linoleic acid (LA). Omega 6's are abundant in our American diet! It's in our common vegetable cooking oils, soybean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and corn oil (but NOT olive oil). Because it is so readily available, we have a heavily imbalanced ratio of omega 6's to 3's. As we mentioned earlier, the omega 6's have a pro-inflammatory effect on the body. It becomes clear that we need to increase our omega 3's and decrease the omega 6's in order to maintain a healthy balance.
Omega 9's: Omega 9's are found in animal fats and vegetable oils. These are not an ideal replacement for 3's and 6's, and the body will eventually suffer from this. There are tons of data pointing to the disease-prevention powers of olive oil. This research is pointing to its high polyphenol content rather than to its fatty acid content as the origin of its health benefits. Evidence points to a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-bacterial effect of polyphenols in the body.
A little side note: Since olive oil contains oleic acid, the same oil made by our skin glands, it is common knowledge that olive oil is one of the best kept beauty secrets ever. From facial cleansers to lip exfoliation, olive oil works wonders to bring a healthy glow to skin.
Viva Omega: Mother Nature intended for us to eat garden-type foods (no, I'm not going to start singing a folk song!) Getting a good balance of the essential and non-essential fatty acids is important to good health and wellness. No one wants to live anything but a quality life - I want a good quality life, that's for sure!
You may be tempted to just throw your hands up at this point and give up - but don't! Let's review just how serious chronic inflammation in the body can be - how debilitating can the end result be? If your body does not have enough omega 3's you can end up with such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke or Alzheimer's - to name a few. It also lowers the LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
How many different ways can I say it? Your health really IS in your hands! The situation really has reached a critical point in the United States. The National Institutes of Health has reported the majority of U.S. diets no longer contain the amount of omega-3 fatty acids needed by our bodies for overall health and wellness. We know the facts - but what will we do with the knowledge we've gained?
When I get old, I want my neighbors to point and stare and say, "Oh crap - what's she up to NOW?" I have no choice but to age - but I do not have to mature. I don't wanna grow up... you can't make me... you can't make me!
Omega-3 fatty acids and the American diet.
This is going to tickle your fancy... today is NATIONAL KAZOO DAY!!!!!!!!!!! Well, what more is there to say??? Stick a kazoo in your mouth and be happy! Why not???