February 15, 2021
Oils and fats are essential for health. They help our cells grow, they protect our organs and they contain nutrients and vitamins our bodies need to thrive, like vitamins A, D, E, and K, along with beta-carotene.
How can you add healthy fats and these nutrients to your diet? Oil supplements might be a good choice, and they are easy to splash into a smoothie or use in salad dressings or food prep.
When choosing an Omega 3 or essential fatty acid product for smoothies, there are a few considerations, notes Tonda, Natural Choice Advisor at Calgary Co-op. “Do you want a fish or vegetable source? Is there a specific health objective you’re trying to achieve? For example do you want to improve cognitive function or ward off inflammation? Consider what you’re trying to do then consult with a Co-op Natural Choice Advisor for guidance.”
How to Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Your Diet
The essential fatty acid called Omega 3 is deemed ‘essential’ because our bodies cannot make what is required for optimal health, so it must be derived from our diet. You can get Omega 3s from fish but the trouble is those Omegas are easily destroyed by heat if they’re cooked—though sushi is a great choice as an alternative.
“Omega 3 can be derived from either animal (fish) or plant sources, depending on your dietary preference,” McGillis says. “If you aren’t driven by a preference like vegetarian or veganism, then we should explore the advantages and disadvantages of each form.”
Fish oils and Omega 3 are helpful for brain and cognitive function and focus, and can reduce inflammation while promoting anti-inflammatory processes. Adding fish oils to your diet can also be helpful for chronically dry eyes, even those that result from pharmaceutical side-effects.
There are considerations when eating fish or taking fish oil as a supplement. Fish can be exposed to toxins like mercury, and the larger the fish, the greater amount of mercury will have built up in the tissues of the fish.
“You should look for sources that use smaller fish such as anchovies, mackerel, and sardines,” McGillis recommends. “Krill is another option, because they are very high in Omega 3, but they are also the sole food of most whales, so widespread harvesting of this tiny animal could become problematic.”
Salmon can have high levels of mercury, depending what area of the world it’s been harvested from. “Japan, with lots of nuclear waste washing into the ocean, is not a preferred source, but pristine Nordic waters may be a better choice.”
McGillis cautions that with fish oils, as with most products, you get what you pay for: More expensive products have gone through a number of purification processes, and she recommends a fish oil supplement by the company Nutrasea. “You can even enter the lot number of the product you purchased on their website and it will show the results of all purification and subsequent testing.”
Look for the IFOS certification (International Fish Oil Standards) on packaging too. This is a 3rd party certification that has looked at over 100 brands world wide and tested more than 15,000 individual products to date.
Another reason to choose higher quality products? Less expensive products that have not been purified through some process will tend to taste fishier either when you take them, or later on.
McGillis suggests you can look for flavoured fish oils so as not to end up with a fishy-tasting smoothie.
“Although the recommended dosage or serving of 1 teaspoon is often easily masked by the ingredients in your smoothie,” McGillis notes. “CanPrev oils are another good choice since their products are high quality and derived from fish and are citrus flavoured, as well as being are quite concentrated in comparison to some others giving it a higher therapeutic value.
Plant Sources of Omega 3
Omega 3s can also be added to your diet from plant sources. Omega 3s are found in nuts and seeds such as walnuts and chia, hemp, and flax seeds, and algae, making this source an excellent choice for strict vegetarians or vegans.
Add Plant Oils to Smoothies for Optimal Health
Adding plant-sourced oils to smoothies is a great way to add nutrients, and even to surreptitiously boost the nutrition factor in your kids’ diets.
An excellent plant-based oil that provides a balanced Omega 3, says McGillis, is Udo’s Oil by Flora.
“This unique product uses organic Canadian-grown seeds (flax, borage, pumpkin) and it is cold-pressed in the Flora manufacturing plant in Burnaby, B.C. Flora may be the only company in Canada that purchases the organic seeds from Canadian farmers and processes the oils themselves, from pressing to distribution.”
If you have questions about the natural choices you can make to improve your health, reach out to one of Co-op’s Natural Choice Advisors.
Please Note: Health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health advice. This general information is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Any information, advice, or suggestions given by Calgary Co-op staff is not a replacement for medical advice from your Doctor, Dentist, or professional Practitioner. Consult with your healthcare professional with any questions you may have.
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