Happy Valentines Day! Since today is filled with love and hearts, I thought I’d do a short post dedicated especially for your heart health!
The focus is on fatty acids. We’ve read and heard all about these in the media lately and we all know that they’re good for us…but did you know the benefits they have on your heart?
Here’s some basic background info about what these fatty acids actually are:
OMEGA-3 (n-3) FATTY ACIDS: They are polyunsaturated fatty acids that contain a double bond at the third carbon atom on the carbon chain. These “good” fatty acids are essential for our health and are needed for many functions in our body. Being “essential” means that our body cannot make them but we need them for our health and therefore we need to supplement them through our diet. Omega-3 are associated with many heart healthy benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and stroke. Dr. Frank Sacks a professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health explains that new studies have found other potentially good benefits of these omega’s such as protection against cancer, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
In our diet, we have two major sources of omega-3 fatty acids and they are obtained from different sources of foods. One type is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and can be found in certain vegetable oils (soybean, canola, flaxseed), walnuts, some green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and salad). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is the second type of omega-3 and can be found in, you guessed it, fatty fish such as salmon!
Dr.Sacks recommends to try and aim to get at least one good source of omega-3 fatty acids into your diet every day for good health!
OMEGA-6 (n-6) FATTY ACIDS: these fatty acids like the omega-3’s are also polyunsaturated and essential nutrients. Omega-6’s are more common in our type of diet here in North America and best sources include safflower, corn, and soybean oils.
These omega-6’s are responsible for lowering the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in our bodies and also help to reduce inflammation. Like the omega-3’s they are also heart healthy!
It’s important to get an abundant amount of both types of fatty acids into our bodies and a healthy diet contains a balanced amount of omega-3 and omega-6. The range you should aim should be between 2:1 – 4-1 of omega-6 to omega-3.
So for you special valentine, why not cook a meal of salmon with some greens on the side tonight?