February is HEART month and what better way to take care of our heart than by learning about fats. Yes, we said fat. As you know there are good and bad fats and the good fats are going to help improve your heart health. Question is… which ones are good and which ones are bad?

There are 3 kinds of ESSENTIAL fats that we are going to be talking about Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9.

Omega 3:

One of the most acclaimed nutrients in the universe is omega 3. It is essential to our body as we cannot produce them in the body. There are a few types of omega 3 fats that come from both plant and animal sources. The plant source omega 3 is called Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) and is generally found in green, leafy vegetables, flaxseeds and chia seeds; and canola, walnut and soybean oils. Difficulty with ALA  is that it takes the body lots of energy to break it down and thus absorbency is typically less than 10%.

The animal soucre of omega 3 are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) which is found in oily fish, algae oil and krill oil and  Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) which can be found in oily fish, krill oil and algae oil. The benefit of animal based omega 3 fats is that these components are the active ingredients and therefore the absorbency is close to 100%!

In order for Omega 3 to have a substantial effect on your health the average daily consumption should be 2000 to 3000 mg of EPA and DHA combined. Supplementation is usually recommended to achieve the optimal amounts.

What are the Benefits of omega 3 fats?  The following list a few:
  • Cardiovascular health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, plaque buildup in the arteries,and the chance of having a heart attack or stroke)
  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels (preventing diabetes)
  • Reducing muscle, bone and joint pain by lowering inflammation
  • Helping balance cholesterol levels
  • Improving mood and preventing depression
  • Sharpening the mind and helping with concentration and learning
  • Boosting immunity
  • Reducing risk for cancer and helping prevent cancer reoccurrence
  • Improving appearance, especially skin health

Omega 6:

Omega 6 is also an essential oil. The current challenge with Omega 6 is that too much of it can lead to pro-inflammatory pathways. It is suggested that the diet consumption ratio of omega 6 to 3 be 2:1 current Western diet patterns are 15:1 ratio –
creating an imbalance. And it is this imbalance that is causing health issues and increased inflammation.

There are 2 different kinds of omega 6 sources… the ones we like and the ones we don’t.  Here is a list of the ones we like:

Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds & flaxseed meal Hempseed oil Raw Pumpkin seeds Raw sunflower seeds Pine nuts Pistachios Borage oil Evening primrose Acai

Here are the ones we DON’T like:

Processed oils such as… canola oil safflower oil vegetable oil corn oil soybean oil peanut oil cotton seed oil margarine
What are the Benefits of omega 3 fats?  The following list a few:
  • Reduce nerve pain
  • Decrease arthritis symptoms
  • Treat symptoms of ADHD
  • Lower blood pressure

Omega 9:

Since our bodies can manufacture it, omega-9, Oleic acid, technically isn’t classified as an essential fatty acid. However, foods rich in oleic acid are still recommended because of the role it plays in cancer protection, and decreasing the risk of heart attacks and arteriosclerosis. Good sources for omega 9 include:

Sunflower seeds Hazelnut Safflower Macadamia nuts Olive oil Canola oil (not suggested) Almond butter Avocado oil
What are the Benefits of omega 3 fats?  The following list a few:
  • May Help Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke – Research has shown that omega-9 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Omega-9 benefits heart health because omega-9s have been
    shown to increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
  • Mood and Brain – Omega 9 has shown to improve energy levels, and support overall mood. Studies have also shown improvements in overall brain activity with high levels of oleic acid
  • Nutrient Rich – Certain foods high in oleic acid are also very nutritiously dense – avocados are high in fibre, olive oil contains many antioxidants….offering more than just fat!