Inflammation is connected with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and atherosclerosis. Recent research shows a direct relationship between fatty acids in foods and inflammation. Certain foods result in either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory responses in the body based on their concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
If you have read My New Adventures or Sonya’s Happenings… before, you know that I do have arthritis and fibromyalgia. Gracie has asthma. We try very hard to incorporate Omega 3’s in our diet regularly.
Three types of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). DHA and EPA are found mainly in fatty cold water fish. DHA is also found in certain types of algae and DHA fortified eggs. ALA is found in high concentrations in flax seeds, flax oil, and chia seeds. Because DHA, EPA, and ALA each have different roles in the body, it is best to include a variety of sources in a healthy diet.
Recent research confirms the anti-inflammatory activity of omega-3 fatty acids. The key to reducing inflammation, research shows, is to achieve a proper balance between omega-3 and omega-6 sources. Therefore, it is important to focus on including omega-3 rich foods such as cold water fish, DHA fortified eggs, flax seeds, flax oil, and chia seeds. Other sources of omega-3s such as canola oil, walnuts, soybeans, and soy oil also contain omega-6 fatty acids. While such foods are healthy choices to include in one’s diet, these foods would not increase the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids relative to omega-6 fatty acids.
Best Fish to Include in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests two six-ounce servings of fatty cold water fish per week to reach the recommended levels of omega-3s. The ADA recommends salmon, tuna, mackerel, swordfish, sardines, Atlantic herring, and lake trout. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish lists king mackerel and swordfish as highest in mercury and suggests avoiding their consumption. The guide lists Spanish and Gulf mackerel and Albacore tuna as high in mercury and recommends no more than three servings per month. Salmon, sardines, and herring are all listed in the guide as having the least amount of mercury as compared to other fish. The guide recommends wild salmon, as farmed salmon may contain other chemicals with negative health effects. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid fish with high levels of mercury and limit all seafood consumption to 12 ounces or less per week.
Other Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Those who do not eat fish can still incorporate DHA into their diet by consuming fortified eggs or using diet supplements. Eggs can be a good source of DHA when laid by hens who have had a high level of the essential fatty acid in their diet. Fish oil, DHA supplements from algae or other omega-3 supplements are widely available where other vitamins and supplements are sold. Vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids include certain types of algae, chia seeds, flax seeds, and flax oil. Algae that is rich in DHA is the originating source of the essential fatty acid and is available in supplement or powder form. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and flax oil are high in the omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA.
Choose a Variety of Omega-3 Sources
Incorporating cold-water fish, DHA fortified eggs, chia seeds, flax seeds, and flax oil into one’s diet may decrease inflammation in the body. Taking the recommendations about fish into consideration, one might emphasize chia, flax and low mercury fish sources such as wild salmon, sardine and herring. Other fish are best consumed in moderation. Supplements are an alternative to dietary omega-3 food sources.
I try to learn something that will help ME feel better as often as I can. I hope you will try to do the same. We all want to feel as good as we can. When my DR suggested that I take Omega 3 pills to fit more fish into my diet, I decided I needed to do some research. Gracie has grown up on salmon and I’m so glad that she eats it so well because I had to learn to like it. We also LOVE walnuts, they weren’t mentioned above but they are a good Omega 3 rich food too.
Good luck to you on your health care journey. I’ll try to post on a more regular basis, although I will be traveling a little bit extra between my house and my Uncle Loyd’s in June. I’ll be just a little busier.