Most Western diets are very low in Omega 3 fatty acids; an essential nutrient that has anti-inflammatory effects, prevents blood clots and ensures health at a cellular level. A lot of people are put off by the words ‘fatty acid’, associating it with dangers to heart health and ‘bad’ cholesterol. The important thing to remember is that this type of fat actually helps to reduce the types of fats you don’t want in your bloodstream. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as many other serious illnesses.
Although you can buy supplements containing Omega 3, the healthiest way to get them is from whole foods that are consumed raw or are baked or steamed rather than boiled. Scientists recommend the consumption of 3 – 4 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids daily, but this requirement can increase when Omega 3 is being used as a treatment for specific conditions or when your diet includes a too high intake of Omega 6 fatty acids which are directly antagonistic towards Omega 3. At the same time, you also want to get enough Omega 6; the trick is getting the balance right. A ratio of 4 parts Omega 6 to one part Omega 3 is generally accepted as the healthy minimum.
The main source of Omega 6 in the western diet comes from the use of processed vegetable oils, so cutting down on them and eating Omega 3 rich foods should save you from having to do all the sums!
Brazil nuts: You’ll get close to 18mg of Omega 3 from 100g of these nuts along with plenty of trace elements and protein.
Walnuts: These nuts contain 9 079 mg of Omega 3 per 100g and are also a good protein source.
Butternuts: Of course, we’re referring to the nuts, not butternut squash. Your Omega 3 dos e per 100g is 8 719 mg.
Chia seeds: This super-food packs 17 552 mg Omega 3 punch per 100g. Of course, you probably wouldn’t eat as much as that at one go, but it does show how rich this source of Omega 3 is.
Pumpkin seeds: Now you’ve got an excuse to nibble on this healthy and yummy snack (if you needed one) – it contains a respectable 17 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids per 100g.
Kiwi seeds: When you eat a kiwi fruit, you’re going to be eating a fair amount of seeds along with it and that’s going to give you 42 mg of Omega-3 for every 100g of fruit consumed. This superb fruit has plenty of other great nutritional benefits.
Hemp seeds: Yet another ‘super-food’, whole hemp seeds offer the perfect balance of fatty acids required for human health. The recommended daily dose of two tablespoons of hemp seed oil would deliver 3 – 6 g of Omega 3.
Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds are a great source of proteins and calcium, but they’ll also give you plenty of Omega 3. 100g of Sesame seeds supplies 363mg of Omega 3.
Extra virgin olive oil: This is one of the exceptions to the ‘plant based oils in the diet’ rule mentioned above. Just make sure it really is ‘extra virgin’. You get 0.76 g of Omega 3 per 100g.
Hemp oil: As mentioned above, hemp oil is a fantastic source of Omega 3 and offers the perfect balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3.
Avocado: 110 mg of Omega 3 might not sound like much and there’s quite a high ratio of Omega 6 involved, but remember, it’s still polyunsaturated fat and if you’re a vegan, avocado is one of your best sources of dietary fat.
Kidney Beans: Whether you eat them cooked or as raw sprouts they’ll supply 169 -170 mg of Omega 3 per 100g and a very low ratio of Omega 6.
Soybeans: Besides giving you a nicely balanced amino acid profile, you’ll get 354mg of Omega 3 per 100g of soybeans.
Dark leafy greens and the amazing spirulina are among the best plant-based sources of Omega 3.
Kale: Healthy Kale will give you 180 mg of Omega 3 when served raw and 103 if boiled lightly.
Spinach: Spinach is one of the healthiest foods out there and cooked spinach delivers 138 mg of Omega 3 per 100g. Like Kale, it has very low levels of Omega 6.
Mustard (greens): If you want to spice up your diet a bit and haven’t yet tried them, mustard greens are an excellent food. There are 22mg of Omega 3 in 100g of cooked mustard greens and you’ll get a good dose of vitamin A along with that.
Collards: This nutritious vegetable will give you 93 mg of Omega 3 and a very low ratio of Omega 6. They’re also rich in vitamins and trace elements.
Spirulina: If you can get hold of dried spirulina, the cooked wholefood will deliver 42 mg of Omega 3 and once again, we’re looking at a low Omega 6 content.
Fish and Eggs
You’ll probably have heard that fish is a good source of Omega 3. It is, but if you take the fact that mackerel, supposedly the best source of Omega 3 among fish delivers 1 422 mg of Omega 3 per 100g, you’ll see that its outperformed by certain nuts and seeds. Eggs give you 78 mg of Omega 3 per 100g – not nearly as much as raw Kale.