Omega Fatty Acids

Wait…Chocolate is Good For Your Heart??

Ok, we kind of made you look…even though it is true! But that’s not really what this post is ALL about. We want to talk about heart health this week, and rightfully so! It is STILL the leading cause of death here in the United States and has been for almost 100 years!

What You Need to Know

What happens after your first heart attack?

Within FIVE YEARS of your first heart attack, the mortality rate for men is 36% in 5 years and 47% for women. During heart month, and all year long, love your heart by taking a look at the foods you eat, moving more/being more active, increasing your “good” cholesterol (HDL), reducing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and stop smoking if you do!

What role does my diet play?

Trans fats (deep fried foods and baked goods), processed meats, and added sugar and significantly increase our changes for cardiovascular disease. And although not a “food”, limiting alcohol intake will make your heart happier by limiting the weight gain that can accompany it and reduce its effect on blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day and women no more than one according to the American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Feed your heart some of these heart healthy foods – leafy greens (hey vitamin k!), fatty fish (hello omega-3’s!), berries (hi antioxidants!), beans/legumes (yo resistant starch!), seeds and nuts (thanks healthy fat!) and yes, you were waiting for it…DARK CHOCOLATE (thank you flavonoids, we love you too.)

What about exercise?

Moving more is good for the heart. Do you have an exercise tracker? Take a look to see what your average number of steps per day is. See if you can take on a challenge to increase those steps by 1000 per day. As you find success, try to build up to 10,000 or more steps a day. Find a heart-healthy workout right here!

Well I just have a little high blood pressure…

High blood pressure is a controllable factor and one, without intervention, that can lead to heart disease. Stress can lead to a slew of health conditions, but also affect our heart with hypertension. Although the link between stress and heart disease aren’t fully clear yet, we do know stress affects more than just the heart and we DO have clarity in strategies for controlling stress in a healthy way (AKA not with alcohol). A healthy diet, exercising, yoga, meditation, laughing, connecting with a friend and deep breathing are all proven techniques/tips to lower stress. Try to find the strategy that work best for you and IMPLEMENT it! Your heart will thank you.

PSA

Take care of your heart! Although it takes some effort to eat well, exercise and keep stress under control, it will also increase the duration of your life! A life that someone else may not have had the chance to have…

22 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant and 75 lives can be saved by ONE donor. We do not always have the luxury of choosing our challenges in life. Some of us may never have a great heart no matter how much we exercise. What would you give for one more day with someone you love that has passed? What would you do for someone you love that is waiting?

Don’t wait until you are in need or someone asks you.

Sign up today!

https://www.midamericatransplant.org/register
or
https://www.donatelife.net/register

Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 – What’s the deal?

Omega Fatty Acids:

We often hear about the benefits of Omega-3’s through fish oil, flax/chia/hemp seeds, walnuts and more. But why? Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fats meaning our bodies cannot create them and we must consume them through food (or supplements). Our bodies use these fats to create other fats that have crucial functions in the body. However it is the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids consumed that nutrition experts are most concerned about.

What is the proper ratio?

For quite some time, it was suggested we ate a ratio of 1:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3). However in today’s world where a sizeable proportion of calories are derived from processed foods rich in vegetable oils and animal-derived fats (namely grain-fed cattle) the ratio has shifted for most people to consuming 10-15:1! This all has created the need to move closer to the 1:1 by increasing Omega-3 consumption and reducing Omega-6 consumption to reduce arthritis inflammation, lower cardiac risk, and reduce brain inflammation (ie Alzheimer’s, mental illness).

In general, most organizations suggest around 500 mg/day of EPA/DHA, however The Institute of Medicine has gone a step further and encourages a daily intake of 1.6 g and 1.1 g per day for adult males and females, respectively.

What foods are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

First, it’s important to know that there are three main types:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

The first one – ALA – is found in many commonly consumed foods that also have Omega-6 Fatty Acids, hence there is less of a push for people to up their intake of ALA. Some foods with the highest ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 are fish and seafood, followed by beans (mung beans/black lentils), Peppermint and Spearmint herbs, green vegetables, tropical fruits, seeds, and mixed green salad.

The only true food source rich in DHA/EPA is fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon. If you are vegan, or do not consume fatty fish or fish oil, you may need to consider using an algal oil (or perilla oil) supplement. Current and limited research shows it could produce a similar effect to marine oils.

*It’s worth noting that current ocean pollution raises possible concerns regarding the safety of fish in general.

OMEGA FATTY ACID SIDE NOTES: You can still have too much of a good thing. While generally not problematic, excessive consumption of fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding and may suppress your immune response. If you take fish oil supplements, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation on dosage. Also double-check with your doctor, before taking a fish oil supplement, if you are on blood pressure medication as it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Now check out this list of Omega-3 rich foods to add to your shopping list!

Keep it simple with grilled salmon over veggies or try out this delicious recipe with arugula and veggie salad!