Omega-3 essential fatty acids: if they’re not a regular part of your diet, they really should be. Omega-3s, which must be obtained from food, are linked to combating inflammation, lowering blood triglycerides, elevating cognitive function and reducing heart disease risk.
It is widely known that omega-3s are extraordinarily healthy and can lower the risk of many ailments. However, the question remains whether it is best to get your omega-3s from marine sources, or from plant sources.
The two omega-3 fatty acids found in marine sources, including fatty fish and krill oils, are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The omega-3 fatty acid found in plant sources, such as seeds, nuts and certain veggies, is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). To date, more research has been done on the heart-healthy benefits of marine-derived omega-3s.
However, a new study from Penn State University, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, reviewed existing literature on the subject, and set out to see how ALA’s cardiovascular benefits compared to those of DHA and EPA.
Commenting on the research, Jennifer Fleming, a clinical research coordinator in nutritional sciences, stated, “the benefits reported for EPA and DHA are stronger because supplements of EPA and DHA were tested, and EPA and DHA was the only difference between the treatment and control groups. In contrast, in the ALA studies, there were diet differences beyond ALA between the treatment and control groups.”
Despite their difficulties, at the end of their review the researchers concluded, “our understanding of the cardiovascular disease benefits of ALA has advanced markedly during the past decade. Based on the current evidence, ALA decreases CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk.”
As we previously reported, a review by Harvard Medical School also associated ALA intake with a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular incidents, including heart attacks. This study was rather large in scale, encompassing over 250,000 individuals.
So, marine or plant omega-3s? If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, the choice is clear. If not, then, as there are benefits to both, why not have both?! Liven up your meals with flax seeds, chia seeds and kale for ALA, and enjoy wild-caught salmon and sardines for your EPA and DHA.
When you get your omega-3s from organic food sources, it’s hard to go wrong.
-The Alternative Daily