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Don’t worry, you can still get plenty of omega fatty acids from eggs, walnuts, and even peanut butter if you just can’t bring yourself to eat fish.
However, even if your seafood aversion requires a generous shellacking of tartar sauce every time you can’t avoid eating fish, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have fish at least a few times a month.
Still, if you simply can’t bring yourself to embrace an even slightly pescatarian approach to getting your healthy omega fatty acids in, or if you’re unable to do so for medical reasons, don’t worry—there are still plenty of alternatives in the form of healthy foods and supplements.
Since informed and impassioned efforts always outlast going through the motions, we first have to explain just how vital these omega fatty acids are to your health.
Why Omega Fatty Acids?
Consumers the world over have been indoctrinated by fat-phobic marketing strategies that lump any and everything containing the word “fat” in it into the unhealthy category.
On the contrary, not only will omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fats not make you fat, they are absolutely essential for our survival in more ways than one.
For starters, omegas are integral to brain development and health, metabolism, immunity, and much more.
Instead of unilaterally condemning all fats, the more health-conscious mindset calls for key discernments between good and bad fats, healthy and unhealthy omega-3/omega-6 ratios, and of course, putting fat to use with exercise versus packing it on with inactivity.
Once these considerations are entered into your perspective on fats, you can best reap the many benefits affirmed by the following research discoveries.
Omega-3s Improve Insulin Resistance in Obese Mice
When the body no longer responds to the hormone that escorts blood glucose into our tissues for use as energy (insulin), it is said to be in a state of insulin resistance.
With nowhere else to go, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream of insulin-resistant people, often leading to diabetes, which comes with a broad array of troublesome symptoms.
Healthy omega-3 fatty acids can fight this complicated process by increasing levels of “AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)” per this study from China’s Sun Yat-Sen University.
Put simply, increasing AMPK by way of omega-3 supplementation helped to inhibit the stressors that cause insulin resistance, leading the authors to conclude that omega-3s exert a protective effect in this case.
EPA and DHA in the Brain
Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two of the most heavily researched substances when it comes to brain health, and for good reason.
This finding from the R&D department of DSM Nutritional Products in Boulder, CO, provides a thorough introduction to DHA’s many functions in the brain, which include:
- Creating brain cell membranes
- Facilitating communication between nerves
- Prolonging life expectancy of central nervous system (CNS) cells
- Maintaining cell membrane fluidity
This is just a small sample of what DHA can do, and almost every benefit relates to healthy CNS function during development and beyond, including learning, memory, and more.
EPA lists more toward the heart-health side of things, but it has been shown to fight inflammation in neural tissue, and given its ability to keep blood vessels healthier and “cleaner,” it also bears great importance in maintaining a healthy and well-supplied brain.
Omega-6 as a Neuroprotectant
Omega-6 acids (particularly, gamma-linolenic acid) can not only mitigate the symptoms of serious neurological disorders, but they may be able to prevent relapses of these conditions as well.
An omega-6 acid known as gamma-linolenic acid has been shown to protect against the symptoms of acute encephalomyelitis (EAE), an inflammatory disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
Researchers from the Department of Immunology at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London found that mice with artificially induced EAE who were given this omega-6 acid fared much better in several aspects of disease severity and recovery than control groups.
Even more importantly, the scope of the study was broad enough time-wise that the experimenters were able to determine that omega-6 acid also prevented EAE relapse, “demonstrating that these fatty acids can alter the progression of an established and ongoing autoimmune disease.”
This is no small discovery, considering MS, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other highly common diseases are also in the ongoing autoimmune disease category.
That’s all good and fine, you might be thinking, but can I still get all these benefits without having to eat fish?
You can indeed, and it’s not as tough as you may think.
Best Non-Fish OFA Sources
Omega-6 fatty acids are so bountiful in the modern diet, in fact, that many experts are concerned that the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is now too low.
The consensus is not to lower omega-6 intake, but to increase omega-3 intake because omega-6 deficiency can lead to neurological and cardiovascular concerns.
That said, here are the healthiest and least fishy foods containing omega-3s, omega-6s, or both:
- Canola oil
- Kidney beans
- Peanut butter
- Potato chips
- Salted meat
When Diet Isn’t Enough
Seafood isn’t the only highly dense source of omega-3s, so don’t worry if you don’t eat it. Supplements are here to help.
Even though there are plenty of non-seafood alternatives available for the omega-conscious dieter, recruiting the help of a supplement will help you get those omega-3s not only caught up, but ideally ahead of the omega-6s.
One of our consistent go-tos is Hi-Health Omega-3 Fish Oil, a definitively non-fishy supplement made with all-organic flaxseed extract.
This extract contains both omega-3 and omega-6 acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid.
Each softgel contains 1,000mg of flaxseed oil, which breaks down to approximately 500mg of omega-3s, 110mg of omega-6s, and 110mg of omega-9s.
The nearly 5:1 omega-3/omega-6 is extremely important for Western dieters especially, since, as mentioned, most of us have thrown this ratio too far off in the other direction.
After just a few critical tweaks to dietary choices and an effective supplement, you can tip the scales back into balance for the betterment of your overall health.