Eating foods rich in Omega-3 as part of a healthy lifestyle can help treat and prevent disease, and guess what, it is an important nutrient in beauty as well. Let’s get a little more familiar with Omega-3’s – what they are, the different types, how they benefit us – so you can confidently include them in your daily diet and know when supplements might be necessary.
Omega-3: What are they?
Omega-3’s are part of the polyunsaturated fat family well-known for being the “healthy fats”. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own, so must be included in your diet. There are 3 forms of Omega 3’s: ALA, DHA & EPA – DHA & EPA have the most well-known health benefits.
ALA however can be converted into DHA & EPA in the body but this is limited. This is important since the food sources that contain DHA & EPA are limited in vegetarian and vegan diets. We’ll talk soon about how to get your Omega 3’s from your diet whether you’re vegetarian/vegan or not.
Why Omega-3’s are Integral for Health and Beauty:
Including Omega-3’s in your diet is needed for overall good health! They play a role in brain, nerve and eye development in infants; help prevent & treat heart disease; decrease inflammation and bad cholesterol in your blood; and may protect against Alzheimer’s Disease and Depression.
Your skin and hair benefit from Omega-3’s as well as they are a part of the cell membrane (outer layer of cells -the building blocks of all living things). The fatty acids in the membrane ensure stability and fluidity in our skin cells, as well as retain moisture to maintain supple youthful skin. Omega 3’s may also help promote growth of lustrous hair by keeping hair follicles moisturized and your scalp healthy.
Omega-3’s influence on decreasing inflammation not only helps protect against disease but also helps decrease redness and the severity of acne as well.
Food Sources of Omega’3:
It is recommended to have at least 2 servings (75grams each) of fish or shellfish from sustainable sources per week, to get the recommended amount of Omega-3. Since vegan and vegetarian diets do not include fish or shellfish, they must get their Omega-3 from other sources.
Considerations if You’re Vegan or Vegetarian
There are few sources of DHA and EPA in vegan and vegetarian diets. As a vegetarian (like myself) or vegan, we can get the ALA form of Omega-3 but the conversion from ALA to DHA and EPA in the body is limited. Some tips to help you get sufficient Omega-3 if you don’t eat fish/shellfish:
- Include DHA supplements made from microalgae
- Include sea vegetables
- If you are lacto-ovo vegetarian you may consider omega-3 fortified eggs
- Limit processed foods
- Limit sunflower safflower and corn oils
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only essential nutrients, but have a list of benefits to help you be healthy and beautiful from the inside out!