What made this particularly interesting is that it comes from a practising Doctor, which helps to give credibility.
Friday, January 30, 2009
For years I have recommended the use of omega-3 fatty acids to my patients with very favourable results. In general, omega-3s can be an extremely helpful adjunct to conventional medicines. If I could only recommend one supplement to my patients, it would be this one. Omega-3s have been studied for over 25 years in literally millions of people. It would be easier to discuss what omega-3s are not good for, rather than the benefits.
The usefulness of omega-3s is based on their ability to decrease the inflammatory process and make platelets in the blood less sticky, much like aspirin does. The final common pathway for heart disease, cancers, and many other diseases is inflammation. There is no known dietary requirement for omega-3 fatty acids, but many population studies have shown that those who have high blood levels of omga-3 fatty acids have significantly less incidences of:
* Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
* High blood pressure
* Angina (chest pain)
In my own Family Practice I have found that that rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes, migraine headaches, elevated triglycerides, and chronic anger have been improved with the supplementation of omega-3s to the diet. There is much evidence-based data that support my personal experiences.
What are the good sources of omega-3 fatty acids? Fish in general, but particularly coldwater fish such as herring, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, cod, and sardines are high in omega-3s. The fish that gives the “biggest bang for the buck” in terms of nutrition are sardines packed in olive oil. Not only are sardines a rich source of omega-3s, but also an excellent source of vitamin D, protein, and calcium. It is almost the perfect food. I wish I had recipes that would make sardines appealing to more people.
The best vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids is flaxseed. The seeds must be ground to release the most fatty acids as possible. Ground flaxseed also has the added bonus of providing high protein and fiber to the diet. I find ground flaxseed is best utilized in yogurt, oatmeal, soups, and health drinks. Nuts, and soybeans are also a good source of these fatty acids. A great book with more information about flaxseed and some pretty good recipes is The Flax Cookbook: Recipes and Strategies for Getting the Most from the Most Powerful Plant on the Planet by Elaine Magee. My wife, Sharon found a wonderful salad dressing recipe for the use of flaxseed which is included at the end of this post.
Balsamic-Flaxseed Salad Dressing
1 Tbsp. whole flaxseed
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Small clove of minced garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Flaxseed may seem like a surprising addition to a salad dressing, but not only is this an easy opportunity to incorporate flaxseed into your diet, it has a pleasant nutty flavour and will give the dressing a good coating consistency. This is a great dressing for any kind of salad greens and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Be sure it is covered.
To prepare, place flaxseed in a spice mill or a clean coffee grinder. Grind to a course meal and transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add remaining ingredients and shake or whisk to blend. Enjoy!