Archive for February, 2010

Fish Oil Benefits — Should YOU Supplement?

The other day I filmed a short video about the benefits of fish oil

Today we’re back with more specifics about omega-3 fats – should you take them?  What are the recommended doses?  How do you know what to look for when buying fish oil? 

Here’s the deal:

Under the “umbrella” of omega-3 fats, there are actually 3 different fatty acids.

EPA, DHA, and ALA (those are all acronyms).  These are all called essential fats, meaning our bodies can’t make them, so we must get them from the diet. 

Where do you get them?
 

EPA and DHA both come from fish and fish oil.  You can get just DHA from algae (for vegetarians). 

ALA comes from the plant based sources of omega-3 fats, such as flaxseed, walnuts, and almonds. 

All 3 of those unique fatty acids have supportive research and unique health benefits, but today we’re going to focus on EPA and DHA from fish, fish oil, and/algae.

Omega-3 fats are necessary for most major functions in the body – in fact, every single cell in the body requires omega-3 fats to function.

This is the last day of American Heart Month, so fish oil and omega-3’s are very fitting for the last day …

… but they aren’t just useful for heart health.

The fat in brain is 97% DHA.  Knowing that you can of course understand how it’s important for mental function.  Ella takes them for brain development.  They’re also good on the other end of the spectrum, as we age, for maintaining cognitive function.

There’s supportive data for those with depression, bi polar, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis, high lipids, lowering blood pressure, and much more.

So here are the American Heart Association recommendations.    

Eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.

Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Now of course you have to be smart about your fish consumption – some may have mercury and other contaminants.  As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the fish, the more likely they are to be contaminated.

  • Children and pregnant woman are advised to avoid eating fish with the potential for high  mercury levels – shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish – but eat up to 12 oz of a variety of fish and shellfish lower in mercury (canned light tuna, wild salmon, Pollock, catfish).
  • Middle-aged men and postmenapausal women – the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks when eating within the FDA recommendations.

Should I take a fish oil supplement?

American Heart Association suggests:

  • For healthy adults with no history of heart disease: eat fish at least 2 times per week.
  • For adults with coronary heart disease: In addition to eating fish 2 times per week, take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils) — 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA – daily.
  • For adults with high cholesterol levels: Add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 2 – 4 grams daily of EPA and DHA.

MOHR RESULTS NOTE: when it says 1 gram or more of EPA & DHA that is different than 1 gram total omega-3 fats.  When you look at the side of your bottle of fish oil, add up how much EPA and how much DHA are in the product and those 2 numbers should add up to 1+ grams. 

From all the data we have read and experts we have talked to and worked with, we feel all adults (and kids) could benefit from supplementing with fish oil (or algae oil for vegans).  Of course check with your personal health care provider for yourself.  But there is a major imbalance of healthy fats to unhealthy fats in the diet of most people … bringing that 'back to a normal balance' is a smart idea in our opinion.

The other key here is not just to ADD an omega-3 supplement, but replace other less healthy fats in the diet.  Otherwise it’s like putting a band aid on the problem – it’s just a temporary fix.

At the Mohr House, in addition to eating low mercury fish a few times each week, Kara takes 2.2 grams EPA/DHA daily (since she's nursing, she also gives some of that to Ella through breastmilk).  Being predisposed to high triglycerides, I use 3.3 grams EPA/DHA — above what the AHA recommends, yes, but the research we've seen impresses enough to do that… we use Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega + D … (each serving provides 1.1 gram EPA/DHA)

We take Nordic because it's a trusted brand in terms of purity, quality, meeting label claims, its concentration, and freshness.  Those all rank high in our books!

We’re all on board here!  Even Ella gets a supplement in addition to what she gets through mommy.  We feel it's THAT important!
 

Flax Seed vs. Fish Oil — What’s Best?

Today Ella and I are talking about the health benefits of flax seed for a healthy heart.  It's not the same as fish oil … check out the video below to find out all about flax and how to use it.

 

Omega-3 Fats are KEY for Heart Health

A More Powerful Antioxidant than Fruits and Veggies?

We’ve talked all about the benefits of antioxidants.  

And of course you can load up on them by eating plenty of dark colored fruits and veggies.  

But there are these “weird” super sources of antioxidants that until recently have been flying under the radar.

What are these “weird” sources?

Herbs and spices.  

Because they’re derived from plants, they share many of the same benefits…

…but, because they’re dried, they are a concentrated source of powerful antioxidants.

When I say powerful – 1 tsp of cinnamon has a higher ORAC score, which is a measure of a foods antioxidant status, than blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries.  

In fact, cinnamon has the most antioxidants of any spice or herb.

Today we’re talking specifically about cinnamon because it’s not just high in antioxidants, it may actually help control blood sugar too … all leading to a healthier heart!

One study published a few years ago gave people with type 2 diabetes either 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon (NOTE: 1 tsp = approximately 3 grams).

The subjects were supplemented for 40 days and their blood work was measured again.  All three levels of cinnamon significantly reduced the blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and total cholesterol.  

Pretty impressive for the addition of a common spice, right?

More data needs to be done to see just how much is “best” – until then, we know it can’t hurt to add cinnamon to your diet. 

If nothing else, the antioxidants can improve your health!

All spices and herbs are great because they had a lot of flavor without calories, fat, or sodium…

For cinnamon, try sprinkling it on oats, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit salad, or in a smoothie.

(Source: Diabetes Care: Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes)

 

Eat THIS Heart Healthy Food

Picture this.  Kara and I are in Italy a couple years ago for our honeymoon.  For one of our day trips, we were in a small town called Ravello, one of the most beautiful towns we visited that trip. 

Since we both love to cook, she found a chef who does private cooking lessons – we were both very excited for our adventure when we woke up.

The 3 of us are in Chef Vincenzino’s house, which was nestled in the mountain side overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 

Incredible, to say the least.

We had no idea what we’d be preparing that day … when we spoke beforehand, he said he would go to the market that morning and whatever was freshest, he’d pick up. 

Well, lo and behold, fresh off the boat that morning … today’s heart healthy food you probably don’t eat (but should) … Sardines!  

I have had them and enjoy them; I thought Kara’s eyes were going to fall out of her head when she heard that (as you can clearly see in this picture of Kara and Vincenzino). 

Of course she wasn’t going to say no to the dinner we were all making with the Chef.

But, she quickly learned that when prepared well (and super fresh) the little fish are superb. 

 

 

And, well, let's be honest — can anything taste bad when you have a view like this?

While going down to sea that morning and picking up fresh sardines unfortunately isn’t a luxury we enjoy daily in landlocked Kentucky, most grocery stores do carry fresh sardines (the term used lightly after eating ones caught that morning)…but stores do at the very least carry canned.

Don’t turn your nose up too soon.

I’ve found that most cringe when I suggest sardines as a powerful health food, yet it’s not because of a bad experience – instead, it’s the thought that these are super strong, fishy, horrible tasting fish.  None of which are true.

But why are these little buggers so darn great for us?

They have significantly more omega-3 fats than wild salmon, they’re naturally high in vitamin D, which I recently told you I was found to be deficient in D, and they’re very low in mercury and other contaminants. 

Oh yeah and they’re also sustainable, which is surely a great bonus!

The question now becomes – what do you do with these tiny omega 3 powerhouses? 

They’re great in spaghetti sauce, or try them lightly breaded (dip in egg, whole wheat bread crumbs, then sauté in olive oil and garlic), or even just mixed with some mustard and used like you would tuna fish. 

I urge you to give them a try, though. 

I’ll go out on a limb and say sardines are the healthiest animal based food that we know of to date.

And you know, combine them with some of the foods that we made that day in Italy (pictured to the left) — fresh veggies, sardines, garlic and herbs, and your heart will LOVE YOU.

 

That's why they made our previous post — The 13 Healthiest Foods You're Not Eating (but should!)

 

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