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This is the first in a series of 4 reviews covering the incredible health and wellness benefits of all-natural, certified organic, GMO-free, nutrient-dense, foods, which contain rich omega 3s fatty acids, a wide-range of important vitamins and minerals, all the critical antioxidants, and all the amino acids, particularly the essential ones.
Popular health and wellness solutions come and go but Omega 3s fatty acids isn’t one of them, for one simple, irrefutable reason, without Omega 3s, we just don’t function very well. As the building blocks of our cells, these essential fats found mainly in proteins are crucial to our health and well being. Foods rich in omega 3s are the healthiest foods you can eat.
Historically, we’ve seen certain populations that consume the most omega-3 foods, like people in Okinawa, and Japan, live longer and healthier lives than people who eat a standard diet low in omega-3s, which consists of plenty of fish, sea vegetables and other fresh produce, and is actually believed to have about eight times the amount of omega-3s that you’d find in the standard American diet, which is likely one reason why these cultures are considered some of the healthiest in human history. For example, the American College of Cardiology found in a study that the Japanese diet rich in fish may hold secret to healthy heart. The research found that that the protection comes from omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in oily fish. In the first international study of its kind, researchers found that compared to middle-aged white men or Japanese-American men living in the United States, Japanese men living in Japan had twice the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a finding that was independently linked to low levels of atherosclerosis. In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, it was found that moderate fish intake could be recommended for the prevention of major depression disorder in aged Japanese individuals.
Other populations that consume plenty of omega-3 foods include those living in the Mediterranean region, using the Mediterranean Diet, including Spanish, Italian, Greek, Turkish and French populations. Yet this set of nutrients in the Western World has been quietly slipping out of our diets over the last 50 years or so because of poor industry food production standards. We’ve compiled an omega 3 foods list, which will provide you with all the information you will need to buy the freshest, and very best foods high in omega 3 fatty acid foods, including other micronutrients of vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, which will be the subject of future reviews.
At the same time, modern agricultural practices and food processing has stripped Omega 3 from the very organic foods that used to be brimming with them.
Cows used to graze out in pastures of natural organic grasses(grass-fed), turning the Omega 3-rich grass into substances that humans could digest, such as nutrient-dense, high in healthy omega 3s milk, butter and lean beef. One PLOS/ONE study found that organic grass-fed milk has about 62 percent more omega-3s, compared to milk produced by cows on conventional dairy farms. Cows raised on conventional farms typically spend a lot more time in a barn or confined in feedlots, and instead of grazing, they’re fed a diet of animal feed that contains a lot of corn, high in fatter and unhealthy omega 6 fatty acids. The NIH also confirmed in a review that the consensus is that, for good health, we need to be eating more omega-3s and less omega-6s(like found in corn). Chickens, pigs, sheep, and turkeys were free to roam (free-range), foraging through the grass for Omega 3-rich grubs, providing us with equally with Omega 3-rich eggs, as well. Did you know that 60% of the natural field grass livestock once grazed on, is the most beneficial form of omega 3 fatty acid? That’s a fact and confirmed in a NIH review. According to the NIH, grass-based diets in food animals elevate precursors for Vitamin A and E, as well as cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity as compared to industry grain-fed contemporaries. Quoting the study:
Conscious consumers will also prefer the overall lower fat content of a grass-fed beef product.
Do you now see the problem of why foods are so depleted of mincronutrients, particularly omega 3 fatty acids ?
Now cows are fed on grain, mainly corn, and given hormones and antibiotics in crowded feedlots, our chickens are raised in cages on corn and hormones and antibiotics, in order to fight off the diseases caused by intensive and unsanitary farming methods. Besides unhealthy omega 6 fats, both growth hormones and antibiotics given to conventionally-raised food animals, are 2 more alarming unhealthy practices causing illness and disease in humans. There is numerous research of the overuse of antibiotics in food animals has shown growing evidence that antibiotic resistance in humans is promoted by the widespread use of nontherapeutic antibiotics in animals and their use should be restricted, per an NIH study. According to another NIH study, the European Union (EU) has officially determined that 6 growth hormones used for growth promotion in cattle pose a risk to consumers. The adverse consequences include developmental, neurobiological, gene-toxic, and carcinogenic effects. While at the same time the good fats have been taken from our diet, the food supply has also been flooded with cheap, chemically-fertilized vegetable and seed oils, rich in an altogether more troublesome kind of fat, Omega 6 fatty acids. We cook with it at home and food manufacturers love its affordability and long shelf life. From crackers and crisps to granola bars and hummus, if it’s processed, you can bet it contains some kind of Omega 6-rich oil.
And why’s that a problem? Both Omega 6 and Omega 3 have a role to play in building the trillions of cells in your body. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute has an excellent article on omega 3 and omega 6 monounsaturated fatty acids and their functions in the human body. While Omega 3s are more fluid and anti-inflammatory, Omega 6s are rigid, to help give cells their structure. We need them both, but in balanced amounts for optimal good health. Too many rigid, pro-inflammatory Omega 6s and too little fluid, anti-inflammatory Omega 3s do not add up to good health. Ideally our ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios should be 1:1 to maintain health and in the prevention and management of obesity, but in the Western World, particularly the US, we’re eating a ratio as high as 20 omega 6 to 1 omega 3 (20:1) in these times according to latest NIH research. A diet low in omega-3s but high in omega-6s can increase inflammation, chances of blood clotting, constricted blood vessels, and your risk of disease and obesity. Upping your levels of Omega 3 is just one side of the equation. To really get your ratio looking a little more balanced, see where you can lower your levels of Omega 6-rich food.
A simple switch is to change the oils you cook with at home. Changing vegetable and sunflower oils to alternatives such as butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut, avocado, macadamia, and even regular lard means you’ll be eating a better Omega 6 to 3 balance. Olive oil is the primary source of fat in the Mediterranean diet which is associated with a low mortality for cardiovascular disease, in addition to reducing oxidative damage, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, blood pressure, thrombosis, and carbohydrate metabolism per an NIH study. The natural phytochemicals found in extra virgin olive oil also has inflammation-reducing benefits and other health benefits found another NIH review. A massive 70% of all the Omega 6s we eat is made up of vegetable and seed oils, so when it comes to making dietary changes, that’s an easy place to start and one that will have the biggest impact. But you’ll also be improving your health in other ways too. It turns out heating vegetable oils to high temperatures releases chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses including cancer, heart disease and dementia. A study by Plataforma SINC found that these toxic aldehydes compounds can be found in some oils, such as sunflower oil, when heated at a suitable temperature for frying. Omega 3 fatty acids protect organs, fight inflammation and build the cells of the brain. Experts believe its disappearance from our diets could be the key to rising rates of cancer, heart disease, depression, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, digestive disorders, allergies, arthritis, joint and muscle pain, cognitive decline, and a host of other health issues. Studies have shown, 20% of Americans are so low in levels of omega 3s, they can’t even be detected in lab tests! But there are lots of ways you can get the balance back in the right proportion, in most of the foods you normally eat, including high-protein foods such as lean beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, and fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet, simply by changing your buying habits from conventional foods to nutrient-dense foods. We’ve discovered the very best Omega 3 rich foods for your consideration, and purchase, to help you restore this essential fatty acid back to its rightful place, on your dinner table, and in your body.
Take a look around any large supermarket and you probably notice that food labels on processed and packaged foods now brag about their omega-3 content more than ever. While omega-3s are now artificially added to multiple kinds of processed foods, such as peanut butter, baby formula, cereal and some protein powders, for example. Be aware that the sources of important omega 3s added in fortified foods usually come from micro algae and not naturally from fish according to the NIH. The first issue, adding the micro algae, naturally adds a fishy aroma to foods, so these processed foods must undergo extensive chemical purifying preparations in order to mask the taste and smell which reduces or changes fatty acid and antioxidant content within the foods, making them inferior to unaltered, natural whole food sources. In addition, the NIH found that the second issue of concern is quantifying which fractions of algal foods are bioavailable to humans, and which factors influence how food constituents are released, ranging from food preparation through genetic differentiation in the gut microbiome. Third issue is understanding how algal nutritional and functional constituents interact in human metabolism. So, there’s no guarantee you’re getting any omega 3s from processed foods.
Cold-Water (wild-caught) Fish and Seafood
The ocean is the world’s richest source of the most beneficial omega 3s fatty acids, particularly, from plankton-eating oily fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel and kippers (the smoked form of herring). Need more convincing? As we covered earlier, the Japanese and Mediterranean populations who consume high levels of Omega 3s in the form of seafood are the least afflicted by all the major diseases attributed to the Western diet. Stay away from “farm-raised fish” and seafood because they usually contain high concentrations of antibiotics, pesticides and toxins, and lower levels of healthy nutrients like vitamin D and omega 3s per a Scientific America study. A 2014 Arizona State University found that the presence of antibiotics in shrimp, salmon, catfish, trout, tilapia and swai, originating from 11 different countries. There is also evidence that farmed fish have more omega-6 fatty acids and less omega-3s.
You do have another option for obtaining fresh healthy cold-water or wild-caught fish if you enjoy fishing, by catching your own either surf or jetty fishing, or deep-sea fishing. Not only will you be getting “out-of-the-water” fresh healthy wholesome fish to eat, but you’ll also reaping all the health and well being benefits associated with the act of fishing, per research from Harvard Medical School study which found, particularly, in fly fishing and relaxing and relieving stress. Checkout this article “Fishing Is For Fun-and Unbelievably Healthy” on all the documented benefits of fishing. While it’s true that plants such as avocados, walnuts, flax and chia do contain healthy plant proteins and Omega 3, they only contain the least beneficial form of omega 3s. Although these are inferior levels of beneficial omega 3s, it’s still okay to continue eating raw nuts and edible flower seeds for the other health benefits of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Here are the very best sources of the most beneficial omega 3s fatty acids cold-water, or wild-caught, fish and seafood, in the order from the highest concentration to the lowest concentration:
Fish and Seafood include Mackerel, Lake Trout, Herring, Fresh Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, Sturgeon, Anchovy, Sardines, Sablefish, Pilchards, Sprats, Cod, Petrale Sole, Haddock, Plaice, Pollock, Oysters, and Wild Pink Shrimp, and Sea Scallops.
Lean Organic, non-GMO, Grass-Fed Or Free-Range (cage-free) Meats
Unfortunately, consumers have been led to believe that meat is meat is meat. A false belief that no matter what an animal is fed, the nutritional value of its products remains the same. This is not true. An animal’s diet can have a profound influence on the nutrient content of its meat. The difference between grain-fed and grass-fed, or free-range animal meat is dramatic. First of all, grass-fed or free-range meats tend to be much lower in total monounsaturated fat in the form of omega 3s, and leaner, than grain-fed meats which is in the form of omega 6s and fatter. For example, a sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one half to one third the amount of fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed steer, lowering your LDL cholesterol level, which is much healthier for you. Although grass-fed or free-range meat is low in unhealthy fat or saturated fat, it gives you from two to six times more healthy omega-3 fatty acids then omega 6s.
Unless you are considering raising your own steer, cow, pig, or chickens, which is obviously, your best option. We mean, really, how practical is it for you to be able to do that? First of all, you’d have to have land and space to raise these animals, and the time. And, if you do, then, by all means, you should. Your next best bet is to buy your different types of lean meats from the omega 3 foods list, which is a very reliable source for natural foods high in omega 3s. Use the links below for this option.
Grass-Fed Bison. 100% certified,natural pasture-fed, no grains, hormones, or antibiotics.
Free-Range Pork. 100% certified, natural field free-range-fed, no grains, hormones, or antibiotics.
Free-Range Lamb. 100% certified, natural field free-range fed, no grains, hormones, or antibiotics.
Free-Range Poultry. 100% certified, natural field free-range fed, no grains, hormones, or antibiotics. Includes chicken, turkey, duck, and free-range hen eggs (cage-free chickens)Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 20 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory or caged-hens.
Fresh, Organic, GMO-Free Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and seeds.
Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are good sources of one form of omega-3 fatty acids. Although it isn’t as powerful as the other significant omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, these vegetables also have fiber and other nutrients, as well as omega-3s. You have several options available to you on eating healthy veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, high in omega 3s. Your first option, is designing your backyard garden, and planting it, one for the Spring and Summer, and one in the Fall, not only for the health benefits of growing your own FRESH, organic, GMO-free, nutrient-dense veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, but also the healthy benefits derived from the physical activity, and the mental benefits you will realize. The other option is to buy fresh certified organic, GMO-free veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, from a reliable specialty market source like here. The best veggie sources high in omega 3s are:
Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collards, basil, grape leaves, arugula, soy beans, winter
squash (acorn, spaghetti, butternut), romaine, green beans, purlance, wild rice, and cabbage.
Fruits sources of omega 3s include:
Strawberries, raspberries, melons, blackberries, and pomegranates.
Organic Nuts and Seeds nut and seed sources high in omega 3s include:
Chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, flax seed, alphala seed, cloves, mustard seed, and hemp seed.
The Best Option For You and Your Family’s Health and Well Being
Americans don’t come even close to getting their omega-3 requirement, and that’s why there’ such an epidemic of health issues in this country, and growing steadily each day. But they used to. Apparently, in humans’ earlier evolutionary stages, plenty of wild greens, lean animals which grazed on high omega-3 grasses, and fish high in omega-3s were consumed, by our ancestors, and humans evolved a need for it. But today, omega-3s have largely been replaced with omega-6s in vegetable oils, especially soybean oil, which is used in large doses in processed foods and fast foods.
And, no longer do the majority of our food animals graze on high-omega-3 grasses, but on grains instead, and supplemented with hormones and antibiotics, detrimental to human health. However, as noted above referenced sources, there are exceptions to still buying grass-fed and free-range meats, which are naturally high in omega 3s. Modern methods and practice in the food industry changes the fatty acid composition of the meats we eat, to our
detriment. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends all adults eat a variety of fish, particularly oily fish, at least twice weekly, which would provide an average of 500 mg daily. For patients with coronary artery disease, AHA recommends 1,000 mg daily, or double the seafood requirement, but never above 3,000 mg without a doctor’s supervision.
Now that you have learned the vital importance of eating a diet high in natural omega 3s, that will assure you and your family’s health and well being, are you willing to change your buying habits? That’s the question you need to answer. We hope you found the Omega 3 Foods List helpful. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.
Look for upcoming review “Foods High With Antioxidants”, on the health and wellness benefits of all-natural, certified organic, GMO-free, nutrient-dense, foods, that contain all the critical antioxidants.
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