The Magic of Omega Fatty Acids
We often view the fat component in our diet with scepticism and try avoiding it by and large, little realising that lipids play a major role in our overall wellbeing. The nature of fat in our diet depends upon the types of fatty acids it contains – saturated and unsaturated. All fats contain both but in general plant oils contain more unsaturated (liquid at room temperature) and animal origin fats contain more saturated (solid at room temperature). As a golden rule saturated fats should be avoided and including plant oils in our diet can prove to be beneficial. Prominent among the healthy fats are the family of Omega oils namely Omega 3, 6, 7, and 9, predominantly Omega 3 & 6. Omega 3 has two components Eicosapentaenoic Acid or EPA & Docosahexaenoic which deliver all the listed benefits. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are good sources of Omega 3 and the extracted oil has been in the market as a supplement for a while now. There are plant-based Omega 3 options available too, but there is a difference in how the body processes them.
A good composition should have a little more EPA than DHA. Fish oil is laden with both, and the benefits of Omega 3 are directly available on consumption, as opposed to plant-based Omega 3, wherein the key component ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), a precursor, needs to be converted to EPA and DHA by the body. It should be mentioned that this conversion is not very efficient necessitating slightly larger quantities of plant origin Omega Oils to be consumed for full benefit. So strict vegetarians will have to contend with the fact that their Omega 3 availability is dependent on this conversion from ALA to EPA & DHA. Some plant sources of Omega oils known for a long time are chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and brussels sprouts. A more recently discovered rich source of Omega 3, and 6 with a bit of Omega 7 and 9 is sea buckthorn seeds and berries.
|Type of Omega Oil
|Omega 7 (Rarely found in foods) Sea buckthorn is one source.
|Very effective in promoting healthy mucous membranes – especially those lining the respiratory and digestive systems.
|Omega 9 (Oleic Acid)
|Protection against heart disease and cancer.
So, if for whatever reason fish oil Omega 3 cannot be consumed by anyone there are a host of vegan options available, with sea buckthorn supplements now in the market looking the most exciting. A typical sea buckthorn 500 mg capsule would have about 60% Omega 3 and 30% Omega 6 with a dash of Omega 7 and 9. There are also options of sea buckthorn blended with other vegan sources like flaxseed, but these may not be as effective as pure sea buckthorn.