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Omega-3s are called “essential” fatty acids for a reason; we are incapable of producing them ourselves. They are an important part of a healthy diet, if consumed through good food sources.
Of the three types of omega-3s, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA and EPA are the two most preferred sources. These are found in fish and seafood such as salmon and sardines. The ALA is found in plants such as nuts and seeds and are also in high-quality meats like grass-fed beef. According to Dr. Axe, the recommended daily allowance is at least 1,000 milligrams a day of EPA/DHA fatty acids and a total of all three combined.
Our bodies are capable of turning ALA into DHA and EPA, to some degree, so getting plenty of flaxseed (ground: 1,597 mg in 1 tablespoon; 39% daily value (DV)), hemp seed (1,000 mg in 1 tablespoon; 25% DV), chia seed (2,457 mg in 1 tablespoon; 611% DV), and walnuts (2,664 mg in ¼ cup; 66% DV) will give some good omega-3s as well as good fat and protein to the body.
For animal sources, choose mackerel (6,982 mg in 1 cup cooked; 174% DV) or salmon fish oil (4,767 mg in 1 tablespoon; 119% DV). Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and watercress also contain the ALA omega-3 and are good sources of protein and fiber. 1
I learned the importance of omega-3s after about six months of eating all raw foods. Feeling like I was going mentally insane, I was at a loss of what to do. I was eating plenty of fruits and vegetables but something felt off. I had drastically reduced the amount of oils, fats, nuts and seeds I consumed and could tell my body was feeling malnourished. I had the impression to eat salmon and eggs, which I did, and after about two hours I felt normal.
People who want to eat a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet need to be sure they are getting good food sources and/or supplementation for omega-3s, B12, vitamin D and other important nutrients. It is good to get tested to see where you are nutritionally as a baseline, and then figure out the food sources and supplementation you want to use to increase what you need.
After more than seven years eating a high amount of raw fruits, vegetables, sprouted nuts and seeds, I have learned to supplement and add back a little bit of wild salmon and organic eggs a few times a month. Also sprinkling more of the flaxseed meal, chia seeds, hemp seeds and some soaked walnuts helps, too. The most important addition is the dark leafy greens, which contain high amounts of omega-3s, and plants like purslane, spinach, and kale are also excellent protein and iron sources.
Think you might be deficient in omega-3s? Here are some symptoms:
We also need omega-6s and omega-9s, but we need to be careful to keep these and the omega 3s balanced at a 3:1 ratio (omega 6s to omega 3s). We often get too much of the omega-6s—or polyunsaturated fatty acids—from fried and processed foods that use a lot of oil and butter. These slow down metabolism, making us feel tired and increasing weight gain.
Some nuts, like almonds, have a higher amount of omega-6s than 3s, and our consumption of nuts should be about ¼ cup or small handful a day, if that. Many people who eat a high amount of raw food overeat nuts, which can cause other problems like a sore mouth, reduced desire for nuts over time, sore throat and/or fever.2
Add in plenty of the high antioxidant fruits such as berries, plums, cherries, oranges, and other colorful fruits and vegetables. A salad with these beautiful fruits and soaked nuts and seeds is ideal with a nice dressing as a meal.
Creating balance in nutrition can be a challenge. Start by implementing a few of these tips, and always listen to your body. By increasing your consumption of uncooked fruits, vegetables, sprouted nuts and seeds while reducing the amount of animal products and processed foods you eat, health and pain-free living is within your reach.
OMEGA 3 BREAKFAST PUDDING
1 c. purified water
7 Mejool dates
1/2 c. walnuts, soaked 8 hours and rinsed
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. flaxseed meal
1 t. hemp seeds
1/2 t. vanilla or scrape 1/8 section of a vanilla pod
1/3 c. coconut flaked, unsweetened (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Mixture will be warm from the machine after blending a couple of times. Eat it warm or cool it in the refrigerator first. Sliced fruit like blueberries or other berries, bananas, etc. are also delicious as a topping to mix in. Enjoy!
This recipe is from Wendy’s NEW recipe book, Beautifully Raw™: RAWinspiring™ Recipe Series. For more information and to order this book, visit: www.rawchefwendy.com
Wendy P. Thueson is owner of Raw Chef Wendy, LLC. She is a certified Chef, Master Herbalist, and Raw Food Coach. She is passionate about the healing power of plants and sharing her message of hope with others because of her life changing experience regaining her health in 2009. She suffered from chronic fatigue for 28 years, debilitating neck and back pain, brain fog, stuttering, Grave's disease, and hypoglycemia to name a few. Wendy began eating a high amount of raw foods and using herbs medicinally. As a result, she is now symptom, pain and medication free. She educates all ages through hands-on classes, speaking at various events, and has been featured on television, radio and in magazines. She has authored several books and online programs to help others learn how to eat and live happier lives. She is an adoring wife and mother of four. You may find her at www.rawchefwendy.com