Every year I make an effort to give something up for Lent. In the past this usually involved soda, late night pizza or ice cream. But, considering I gave those things up already, I figured I would try to add something to my diet instead. Since becoming Paleo, I have read countless articles about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. Every single time I make a mental note to remember to take my fish oil in the morning. But for some reason, I ALWAYS seem forget. Maybe I’ll have a smart day here and there and remember, but 9 times out of 10, I forget. Sometimes, I will remember at work and make a note to take it when I get home, but that doesn’t work out well either.
So, for Lent this year, I am going to making a conscious effort to increase my Omega-3 consumption. I am hoping that 40 days is long enough to eventually make a daily habit out of it. Since I am still half asleep in the morning, I have gone to the extent of putting a huge, bright pink sticky note on the medicine cabinet (which is right above the coffee maker) and setting an alarm on my phone to go off around the time I eat breakfast. Although annoying, it seems to be working so far.
I’m glad you asked! Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are considered essential fatty acids. This means that we need these fatty acids for our bodies to function properly. Omega-3s are known to be an extremely important ingredient for brain health and optimality. These acids are a rich source of DHA, which is instrumental for brain cell membranes and the transmission of brain signals. An Omega-3 deficiency can lead to a breakdown in this communication between brain cells. Basically, Omega-3’s are a super brain food. However, since our bodies cannot naturally produce this nutrient, people must incorporate Omega-3s foods and sources into their diets to reap its benefits.
What are the benefits of Omega-3s?
There are a ton of other benefits of adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet too. This can range from decreased inflammation in your body to protecting against several diseases such as heart disease. Other benefits of Omega-3s are below:
- Reduce inflammation throughout your body
- Keep your blood from clotting excessively
- Maintain the fluidity of your cell membranes
- Lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream
- Inhibit thickening of the arteries by decreasing endothelial cells’ production of a platelet-derived growth factor (the lining of the arteries is composed of endothelial cells)
- Reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin by stimulating the secretion of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate food intake, body weight and metabolism, and is expressed primarily by adipocytes (fat cells)
- Help prevent cancer cell growth
- Helps protect against stroke, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis
What are some good sources of Omega-3s?
Obviously adding fish oil to your diet is a great way to increase your consumption of these fatty acids. However, like any other nutrient, it is better absorbed by your body in the form of food rather than supplements. Below are some great foods high in Omega-3s:
- Flax seeds
No matter what the source of Omega-3, increasing your consumption of it is bound to have its benefits. All science aside, I once read that these fatty acids also promote shiny hair and strong nails. Bonus!
What do you guys do for Lent? Switch your mindset- instead of depriving yourself, what can you ADD during these 40 days to improve your health?
PS- Emily and I started the 30 Day Challenge again last week. Pics to come soon!!