Throughout man’s evolution, the natural diet of human beings included equal quantities of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. For only the past 100 years, there has been a considerable increase in the consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids and a decrease in the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is due to the fact that, in the food industry, the preference is to use corn, sunflower, safflower, cotton and soy oils, which, unfortunately, are chemically transformed (hydrogenated).
Now we know that eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent arrhythmia, angina, angina pectoris, myocardial infarct, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers, arthritis and inflammatory diseases such as lupus and Sjorgren’s disease. People with intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis can benefit from an increased Omega-3 intake. In fact, there isn’t a cell in our body that likes to be deprived of Omega-3.
What is even newer and more interesting is that Omega-3 is also important for maintaining mental health. The brain is made up of over 60% of fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). We also know that cultures that eat a lot of fish, such as the Japanese, are less likely to suffer from depression. Serious studies have established that depression is ten times less frequent in Japan. The Japanese diet contains 15 times more Omega-3 fatty acids than the North American diet. The population with the least amount of depression is in fishing villages. In 1995, a team of psychiatrists interviewed people in a town whose main industry was fishing; they didn’t find a single case of depression.
Our diet is lacking in Omega-3, but pregnancy and nursing can further aggravate the problem. After delivering, women are six times more at risk to be depressed, and this risk remains high for at least two years. DHA is needed for brain development in the fetus, and the mother can literally use up her reserves in essential fatty acids in favour of her child. It appears that nature decided that the child takes priority over the mother. This situation continues during nursing. Breast milk is rich in Omega-3.
Some people follow very low-calorie diets that are also low in essential fatty acids. It is important that they eat at least two meals of fatty fish a week. If not, you must take a high-quality food supplement. Several cheap products are contaminated by pesticides and are rancid. The best products are certified to be exempt from chemical contaminants.
According to Drs. Hibbeln and Salem, the NIH (American equivalent of Health Canada), the epidemic proportions of depression and suicide in our country may be related to our unbalanced diet. Since fish fat capsules were used in most clinical research, they are the preferred source. However, the alphalinolenic acid found in green vegetables, linseed, canola and nuts contain fat that the body can transform into activated fatty acids. Unfortunately, this transformation is not always done optimally.
There is still no definitive proof, but since fish fat holds no danger, it is of great interest to people to integrate it into their daily life. The majority of researchers in the field have enriched their diet with Omega-3. Take fatty fish twice a week or a supplement. If not, your diet will “depress” you!
The best sources of Omega-3 (DHA)
Other indirect sources:
- Linseed and linseed oil
- Canola oil
- Nuts and nut oil
NB: Sole is not a good source of DHA, and olive oil contains almost no essential fatty acids.
Sources of oméga-6 (to avoid)
- Corn oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Soy oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
- Margarine with hydrogenated oils
- Salad dressings with hydrogenated oils
- Mayonnaise with hydrogenated oils
- Bakery products with hydrogenated oils