Category Archives: Omega-3

Try healthy oils rather than butter when you cook

 

When people get ready to cook a meal, the last thing they should reach for is butter. That's because butter is packed with saturated fat and calories, and is certain to foil a person's weight loss plans. Instead, many trendy weight management plans, like the Mediterranean diet, encourage people to use oils in place of butter whenever possible. Olive and other oils contain healthy lipids like omega-3 fatty acids and are lower in saturated fat than butter.

Recently, the San Diego Union-Tribune published an article explaining the many benefits of choosing oils over butter when cooking.

'Healthy' fats

According to the news source, people who want to improve their cardiovascular health should choose oils over butter when the recipe can allow for it, because saturated and trans fats are not good for the heart.

"Unsaturated fats are preferred and include omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. A healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in oils such as flaxseed oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seed oil and walnut oil. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in corn, wheat germ oil, sesame and grape seed oil," stated the information provider.

More than just olive oil

The news source recommended walnut oil for salad dressings, desserts, and meat and fish dishes. This is a good source of omega-3s, though it can be pricey. The Union-Tribune also suggested hemp oil, which has a nutty flavor and contains vitamin E.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which may help boost the immune system. This nutrient can also be found in wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, tomatoes, almonds and some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. 

Grape seed oil is an interesting choice for stir-frying or sauteing, as it has omega-3s, omega-6s and vitamin C. The Union-Tribune suggested mixing this oil with rosemary and oregano for a tasty salad dressing.

Finally, try sesame oil, which can be used in a number of dishes including chicken, mixed vegetables and in marinades and dressings. The news source added that one benefit of  this oil is that it has a rich and nutty flavor that does not become bitter or disappear when it is cooked at high temperatures. It also does not need to be refrigerated. 

So try out these oils the next time you reach for the butter while cooking.
 

Eat your way to a happier mood

 

There are many healthy foods that have been associated with improved cardiovascular health, such as salmon, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, and dark chocolate, which is a good source of antioxidants. Now, research presented at National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society has suggested that these foods, among others, may also be able to boost brain health.

According to researchers, berries, chocolate, tea and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids contain organic compounds that resemble the molecular structure of valproic acid. This substance is the main ingredient in many mood-stabilizing drugs, and these foods contain substances that are extremely similar to it, giving new meaning to the phrase "comfort food."

Eat right, feel better

Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D., who was the lead researcher on the study, said that her team examined more than 1,700 food flavor ingredients to see if any of them have chemical properties similar to mood-enhancing medications. Chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, teas and omega-3-rich foods, among others, were on the list of treats that may be able to affect a person's mood.

According to the scientists, these findings warrant more research into how diet may be used to improve mood. While the results are promising, Martinez-Mayorga warned against taking them as a sign that all you need for your mental well-being is food.

"It is important to remember that just eating foods that may improve mood is not a substitute for prescribed [mood-enhancing] drugs," Martinez-Mayorga cautioned.

However, she added that for people not on medications, pursuing an active lifestyle and eating certain foods could have a large impact on mood.

Happy meals

Health Magazine has independently offered some suggestions for meals that may help a person improve his or her mood. For example, a salmon salad with olive oil vinaigrette will offer eaters a double-dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

Next, the news source recommended a low-fat shrimp and pasta dish, since carbohydrate-rich meals have been shown to potentially increase levels serotonin, one of the chemicals in the body that is responsible for elevating mood. The information provider also suggested lentil soup, since it is a good source of protein, fiber and folate. Studies have shown that people who do not have enough folate are more likely to experience sour moods than those who consume higher levels of the vitamin.

Finally, people should remember to choose antioxidant-rich beverages with their meals, such as green tea or coffee.
 

The Mediterranean diet may be good for the bones

 

One of the keys to healthy aging is to protect the skeleton. While many people know that vitamin D and calcium are essential to bone health, they may not realize that their weight can also play a role. For example, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that being overweight can be damaging to the bones. Furthermore, the increased pressure that being overweight places on the joints may cause pain.

Recently, a new study suggested that there may be a way to promote the health of bones and weight loss at the same time. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that following a Mediterranean diet may have protective benefits for bones. Furthermore, this diet has been used as an effective weight loss tool for many years.

Good for bone and cardiovascular health

According to researchers, olive oil, which is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, has been associated with bone health.

"The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of [bone problems] in experimental and in vitro models," said José Manuel Fernández-Real, M.D., Ph.D., of Girona, Spain, and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil were found to have improved bone health over those who consumed a low fat diet or a Mediterranean diet that included mixed nuts, but not as much olive oil. Furthermore, people who ate more olive oil had higher calcium levels than the others.

Other benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Along with potentially helping the bones, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. According to staff at the Mayo Clinic, this eating plan mostly consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil. Many of the components of this diet, such as salmon, anchovies and olive oil, are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Some people who follow the regimen have also seen improvements in their cholesterol levels. This is likely due to the fact that while following the Mediterranean eating plan, people are supposed to replace butter with olive oil, which has less saturated fat.

Finally, the Mediterranean diet encourages people to drink moderate amounts of red wine, which contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant.

So, people who are interested in potentially improving their bone and heart health should consider trying a Mediterranean diet. 

There are things you can do to improve eye health

 

A major part of healthy aging is protecting the eyes, since a person's sight may deteriorate as he or she ages. While some people may be under the impression that there is little they can do to imrpove their eye health, they would be wrong. In fact, there are many vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to benefit the eyes, and it can be easy to whip up a meal that is good for the body and the vision.

Recently, the Desert Sun, a Palm Springs news source, published an article explaining how people can change their diet to potentially improve their eye health.

Antioxidants and vitamins are the key

While carrots have long been considered the best food that individuals can consume to improve the health of their eyes, there are others as well. For example, the newspaper recommended other vegetables such as kale, spinach, zucchini and collard greens, since they contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

"Lutein is also found in eggs, especially the yolk," the source pointed out. "Recipe note: Because lutein is a fat-soluble nutrient, absorption is increased when consumed with a little oil. So it's good to know that olive oil drizzled on summer's fresh salads is good for your taste buds and your eyes."

The information provider added that zinc and vitamin C are also important for eye health. According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc is present in oysters, crab, lobsters, pork chops and fortified cereals. Good sources of vitamin C include cantaloupe, mango, kiwi and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit.

Other tasty ways to boost eye health

According to WebMD Health News, studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet may also benefit the eyes. This diet consists of foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, tuna, almonds and olive oil.

The medical information website added that while butter may be harmful to a person's overall health, olive oil contains not only eye-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, but also antioxidants.

The Mediterranean diet also usually involves moderate red wine consumption. This beverage contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that has also been associated with eye health. A 2008 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that resveratrol may help ward off age-related decline of the eyes. 

This summer, eat healthy treats that may benefit the skin

 

During the summer, skin care is particularly important. This means that people should wear sunscreen and clothing that will protect them from the sun's UV rays. There are also many foods people can eat in the summer that may boost the health of their skin. These foods often contain vitamin C and E, antioxidants and lycopene.

The Huffington Post has compiled a list of summer foods that may be healthy for the skin. First, the news source suggested pomegranate, which is a major source of antioxidants. Next, the information provider said that tomatoes are a popular summer snack that can provide people with healthy amounts of lycopene, which may benefit the skin.

Kiwis, blueberries, and sweet potatoes are all loaded with vitamin C and E, and the information provider suggested that individuals eat these foods to boost skin health. Also, sipping green tea or even applying products that contain green tea may be good for the skin, and this beverage is another good source of antioxidants.

Fitness Magazine also has some recommendations for foods that people should eat that may benefit the skin. The news source spoke to Nicholas Perricone M.D., a dermatologist in New York who said that contrary to popular belief, chocolate may actually be good for the skin, as long as it's the dark variety.

"Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant," said Perricone, quoted by the news source.

Finally, the information provider recommended walnuts to boost the health of the skin. These nuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may also boost brain health. 

Natural ways to help boost joint health

 

As people age, it is more likely that they are going to experience some kind of discomfort in their knees and hips, which is why individuals should be focused on improving joint health when they get older. Recently, Everyday Health spoke to a number of doctors about ways to boost joint health. Among the many suggestions they made were to consume more omega-3 fatty acids and to come up with a weight loss strategy.

First, the news source spoke to Jamal A. Mikdashi, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore., who said that office workers who want to improve their joint health should take occasional breaks from typing. According to the doctor, repetitive motions and sitting for long periods of time may cause joint discomfort, so people should stand up and stretch often.

Next the news source recommended getting regular physical activity for joint health.
"Lounging may be a good thing for a Sunday afternoon, but if it is a daily habit, you may actually be adding to your [joint] pain. It sounds counterintuitive, but don’t use aching knees or other joint pain as an excuse for being physically inactive," according to the information provider.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends that people with joint pain get moderate exercise to strengthen their muscles and get more energy throughout the day. Lack of physical activity can increase stiffness by weakening the muscles that support the bones and putting more stress on the joints.

Finally, the information provider spoke to Bonita Libman, M.D., an associate professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Vermont, who recommended that people consume more omega-3 fatty acids through fish or supplements, since these healthy fats have been shown to potentially boost joint health.
 

The right nutrients may support eye health

 

People who are interested in supporting the health of their eyes should know that they need to be getting the right nutrients. These include omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins that can be found in both foods and supplements. Recently, The Vancouver Sun spoke to optometrist Dr. Sonja Hagemann, who often recommends that her patients change their diets if they are looking to protect their eyes from the effects of aging.

First, the doctor explained how the right nutrients can help keep the eyes young. She explained that certain foods have compounds that have been shown potentially benefit the eyes.

"Your eyes [may] benefit from the pigment found in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are best gained from eating superfoods such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach," said Hagemann, quoted by the news source.

Hagemann suggested that people strive to get at least one to two grams of omega-3s a day, which can be done through diet or supplements. Foods such as salmon, tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds are all good sources of these fatty acids. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, studies have found that people who regularly ate fish high in omega-3s showed signs of support for eye health.

Next, the optometrist recommended taking the right vitamins for eye health. She said to look for high-quality multivitamins that contain high amount of antioxidants with CoQ10, green tea extract, alpha lipoic acid, N-Acetylcysteine and vitamin B.

Finally, Hagemann recommended that people avoid smoking, obesity and overexposure to sunlight without sunglasses if they want to keep their eyes healthy as they age.

Researchers explain cellular mechanisms behind omega-3 health benefits

Countless studies have shown that omega-3s play an important role in support brain health, heart health and a number of other areas of well-being. However, few scientific investigations have been able to provide satisfying answers to the question of how these nutrients deliver these benefits.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego, is saying they may have found the answer. They claim their study, which examined the action of omega-3s in mouse cells, is the first to explain in detail the chemical processes that result in support for cardiovascular and neurological health.

The findings do far more than simply answer a question of burning scientific curiosity in the scientific community. The researchers said their findings could be used to develop new treatments for some relatively intractable health problems.

In the study, the researchers supplemented mouse diets with high levels of omega-3s. They found that these nutrients suppressed levels of hormones that signal inflammatory processes.

"There have been tons of epidemiological studies linking health benefits to omega-3 oils, but not a lot of deep science," said lead researcher Edward A. Dennis. "This is the first comprehensive study of what fish oils actually do inside a cell."

Aside from potentially leading to the development of new medications, findings from the study could be used to provide a scientific justification for omega-3 supplementation. This may help to get more people to use such products.

In the meantime, the findings help to resolve an enduring scientific debate. The results provide evidence for the first time of exactly what happens in cells when they are exposed to omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s are central to heart health

Consuming more omega-3s may be one of the most effective ways to support heart health. Experts say these nutrients play an important role in the cardiovascular system, and eating foods that contain them on a regular basis can deliver major benefits for the cardiovascular system.

Dr. Michael Ozner, the medical director of the Center for Wellness and Prevention at Baptist Health South Florida, told the Miami Herald that that people should have their omega-3 blood levels checked by a physician. This may help them know if they need to take steps to get more of the nutrients into their diet.

Some evidence has shown that the majority of Americans do not have adequate omega-3 levels. Therefore, if more individuals were to be tested a high number would likely be identified as deficient in these key nutrients.

Dr. Ozner told the news source that individuals can be sure that they are eating enough omega-3 by adopting a Mediterranean-style diet. This includes plenty of foods that contain the nutrients, such as fish, nuts and olive oil. The diet is also low in saturated fat and high in vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, all of which has been shown to support heart health.

Because of the important role omega-3s play in the cardiovascular system, the American Heart Association has recommended that individuals eat at least two servings of oily fish per week. This should ensure that people are consuming adequate levels of the nutrients.

Individuals can also use nutritional supplements to boost their omega-3 levels. Krill oil supplements are becoming a popular source of the nutrients, as some evidence has suggested that the fatty acids in these products are more rapidly digested by the body.
 

Group recommends diet rich in fish to support heart health

The vast majority of adults could benefit from getting more fish in their diet in order to increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, a group of experts said at a recent conference held in Ireland.

Speaking at a panel discussion held as part of the EuroPRevent 2012 conference, University of Southampton researcher Philip Calder said more needs to be done to encourage the public to eat fish. Despite the many health benefits of omega-3s, many people do not get enough of the nutrients in their diet. Eating more fish is one way to maintain adequate levels.

He put much of the onus for this on physicians, saying that primary care doctors should talk with their patients about their diet and encourage them to eat more fish.

"Omega-3 fatty acids are really important to human health, whether you're talking about [cardiovascular], brain or immune health. Heath professionals have a key role to play in educating the public about the beneficial effects of including fish in their diets," Calder said.

He added that eating two meals per week of fish should be enough to help individuals maintain adequate levels of omega-3s in their blood. This is in line with recommendations from the American Heart Association.

However, Calder recognized that there is a sizable percentage of the population that simply does not like fish and is unlikely to incorporate seafood into their regular diets. He said that nutritional supplements containing omega-3s may be suitable for these individuals.

Ultimately Calder and the other panelists concluded that a diet rich in fish is an excellent way to consume omega-3s and support heart health.