Sources of omega 3 are continuing to be a hot topic in the world of nutrition. One of the richest sources of omega 3 comes from cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines. However if you are not a fan of fish whether it be by choice or lifestyle, there are some excellent plant sources available.
Why is omega 3 important?Every cell in our body contains fats. Some of these are produced by our bodies, but some aren’t and have to be obtained from our diet. These are called ‘essential’ fatty acids aka the good fats, and the omega 3 family belongs to this category. Our body uses fatty acids to build brain cells, hormones, neurotransmitters and many other functions in our body. Basically, if you aren't supplying your body with the fatty acids it needs, it cannot function properly and things start to go wrong! Omega 3 has a long list of tried and tested benefits for your health including:
- Improved heart health by maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Reduced inflammation.
- Improved memory and brain health.
- Supports and maintains good eye health.
- Helps to support healthy pregnancy and foetal development.
There really is a wide range of health benefits associated with omega 3. If you would like to learn more about it you can check out our earlier blog post here.
Best sources of omega 3The best sources of omega 3s come from nuts, seeds and oily fish. Be careful with vegetable oils, as some contain a high amount of omega 6, which can cause inflammation rather than reduce it. Here are our top sources of omega 3 that also contain a healthy omega 6:3 ratio:
- Flaxseed oil and flax seeds
- Hemp seed oil and hemp hearts
- Chia seed
- Shellfish (Oysters)
Fish and seafood can be expensive and don't fit into every diet. Flax and hemp seed oil offer an easy way to get omega 3 into your diet DAILY. We recommend Hemp Seed Oil as it has the perfect ratio of omega 6:3, tastes great, and has the added benefit of containing natural terpenes and cannabinoids which further help to stimulate your endocannabinoid system.
Deep diving into hemp seedHemp has long been considered to be a 'superfood'. While there isn't a specified list of actual superfoods, what makes them super are their health benefits. Hemp is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, such as the omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is also one of the only plant-based sources of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which can help people suffering from eczema. As a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, hemp seed contains about 60% more than flax seed, 95% more than chia seed, and 104% more than fish oil. Hemp is also a powerhouse of other essential nutrients including a plant based source of calcium and iron, zinc, phosphorus, protein and vitamin D, A and E. Another benefit is that hemp can be farmed sustainably. Hemp grows incredibly quickly, capturing 4 x more carbon than trees!
Hemp vs fish sources of omega 3While both hemp seed and fish contain omega 3 there are in fact slight differences between the two sources. Fish sources of omega 3:
- Include the actual fish itself such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna as well as capsule forms.
- The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both of these nutrients work to boost brain health and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- If you choose to consume a capsulated form it's important to choose a source that is made from a reputable supplier and does not contain fillers or other nutrients that may interfere with proper absorption of omega 3.
- Fish sources must be farmed sustainably, in order to preserve balance in the environment.
- Some fish contain mercury and other heavy metals, which can accumulate in your body with time and cause health problems.
- The easiest way to consume omega 3 from hemp is via hemp seed oil. This can be eaten in a variety of ways such as in a salad dressing, added to smoothies, mixed in with some nuts and yogurt, or drizzled on bread or over pasta. To check out our range of hemp seed oil products click here.
- Unlike fish oil, hemp seed oil contains omega 6 and omega 3 in a 3:1 ratio which is ideal for good health.
- In terms of nutrition, hemp seed oil is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, containing very low amounts of saturated fats but with very high levels of essential fatty acids. On the other hand fish oil naturally contains saturated fats which must be artificially processed out.
- Hemp oil features the superior form of omega-3, known as SDA (Stearidonic acid) which converts to EPA in your body more efficiently than fish oil.
- Hemp oil can be directly applied to skin to soothe irritants such as eczema and dermatitis and won't leave you smelling like a fish.
Hemp oil is loaded with phenols and antioxidants, which help with the reduction of free radicals, contributing to a more youthful and naturally healthy body and skin.
The winner is:
While you can't deny that fish sources of omega 3 are good, hemp seed oil contains a wealth of additional benefits that fish oil supplements can't provide. So what's the best way to get omega 3 in your diet? We'd love to say 'just eat hemp seed!' but when it comes to nutrition, diversity and balance are key. Eat a range of nuts and seeds. Just make sure hemp seeds feature in that range!