Omega 3 doesn’t have to be fishy

By 27. November 2014Blog, Health, Nutrition

Omega 3, it seems there is a new article every week to report about it. This week, it comes from the journal Advances in Nutrition.

The authors of a paper want to draw people’s attention to the omega 3 fatty acid α-Linolenic acid (ALA) that is found in some plants. They claim there is evidence that this omega 3 fatty acid can also help against cardiovascular disease just like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish.

The authors looked at a number of publications and stated that ALA did seem to have less of an effect but that this could be explained by the use of supplements of EPA and DHA, while the ALA tended to be diet based. This means the differences between the treatment and control groups of the ALA studies “were diet differences beyond ALA”. i.e. they don’t think it is a fair comparison.

We had a quick dig into our past blogs and found that in general the problem with plant based omega 3 fatty acids is that they normally come hand in hand with omega 6 fatty acids which compete with the omega 3 fatty acids for absorption into the body and can actually increase the chances of heart disease.

Two plant based sources of ALA without a high level of omega 6 fatty acids are linseed (or flaxseed for those of you over the pond) and walnut. The authors do gratefully acknowledge an educational grant from the California Walnut Commission but I don’t think we should hold that against them.

With recent news that the omega 3 fatty acid content of our fish maybe dropping I for one would like to see more research into the health benefits of this plant based source of an alternative omega 3.

The publication is available from the Advances in Nutrition website.