Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, algae, nuts, and seeds are said to have almost miraculous health effects. Recent studies underscore their benefits.
Salmon, herring, mackerel, and anchovies in particular, but also linseed, walnuts, hemp, and certain oils are known for their high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Lately one hears again and again about so-called “algae oils”. what’s up
Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the body
In fact, omega-3 fatty acids are of great importance for human metabolism. They are building blocks of our cell membranes and keep the cell envelopes supple. They are also required for the production of various tissue hormones (the body’s own messenger substances). Studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acids strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammatory processes.
Vital building blocks in the organism
Omega-3 belongs to the so-called polyunsaturated fatty acids. Three of these are particularly important for the human body: firstly, the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, and secondly, the two omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are mainly obtained from fish or algae.
Treat sensitive omega-3 vegetable oils properly
The main vegetable supplier of omega-3 fatty acids in linseed oil. A hundred years ago it was almost the only oil in Germany. Then the flax plant, also known as flax (supplier of linen), was almost forgotten for a long time.
Edible oil, among other things, is pressed from the seeds of the flax. Linseed oil has a slightly nutty taste and goes well with salads or quark with boiled potatoes. Cream cheese gets a special touch from the oil.
Due to its particularly high content of the valuable omega-3 fatty acid ALA, linseed oil is very sensitive to light and goes rancid easily. You should already pay attention to high-quality production when shopping – the criteria: organic, pressed cold, or with the exclusion of light, heat, or oxygen, for example with the “Omega-safe” or “Oxyguard” process. The oil should be stored in a dark and airtight place, used fresh, and consumed within three weeks of opening, otherwise, the positive health effects will be lost. Important: Linseed oil should never be heated.
Farmed salmon: a higher percentage of omega-6
Salmon is particularly popular among omega-3-rich fish. Today it mainly comes from large breeding farms. There, the predatory fish gets more vegetable food, which has a higher proportion of omega-6 than its natural animal food. There is a fear that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in salmon will deteriorate as a result. Samples show, however, that the ratio can still be favorable for farmed salmon.
The “omega balance” is extremely important
In order for omega-3 fatty acids to work well in the body, our diet must not contain too many omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-6 fatty acids are found, for example, in sunflower or safflower oil and often in ready-made foods.
Why is omega balance so important? Because our metabolism processes omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids using the same enzyme. If all enzymes are “occupied” with omega-6 fatty acids, the body cannot absorb omega-3.
On average, our food today contains 10 to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should actually be between 1:1 and 5:1.
A blood test determines the omega index
Thus, for an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids, not only how much fish or flaxseed oil you eat is decisive, but also the “overall balance” of the fats consumed. Actual exposure may vary from person to person. A special blood test was developed to determine how much EPA and DHA actually reach the blood. He takes advantage of the fact that fatty acids accumulate on red blood cells and can be measured there. A so-called omega-3 index of 8 to 11 percent is considered optimal. However, the determination of this laboratory value is not routine and is not paid for by health insurance companies.
Omega-3 capsules from the pharmacy and dietary supplements
Due to the numerous health-promoting effects of omega-3 fatty acids, they are now successfully sold as dietary supplements. While prescription drugs from the pharmacy consistently contain 460 mg EPA and 380 mg DHA in 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, the amounts in over-the-counter dietary supplements vary considerably. The consumer center points out that manufacturers of dietary supplements only have to state the total content of omega-3 fatty acids and not how much ALA, EPA, or DHA is contained in detail.