The human body is made up of trillion of cells which form the tissues, organs and organ systems. Omega-3s, particularly Eicosapentaeonic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaeonic Acid (DHA) provide foundational support to these cells. The majority of Omega-3s reside in our cell membranes and act as gatekeepers. These also promote the fluidity of cell membranes which enable cells to be responsive to their environment. When the cells respond to the environment, then the body functions at its best.
Along with these benefits of Omega -3s EPA and DHA, these can also help in maintaining healthy inflammatory response and provide fundamental support to the heart, immune system, brain, mental, prenatal and neonatal health.
What are the sources of Omega – 3s?
There are two main sources of Omega -3s. These are:
- Marine based: The sources include cold-water fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and marine micro-algae which provide omega – 3s directly in the form of EPA and DHA.
- Plant based: Plant based sources include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts in the form of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).
- ALA should be converted into EPA and DHA through a complex series of metabolic reactions occurring inside the body. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA in the body is extremely low.
Since the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is extremely low, does it mean that vegans and vegetarians would need to consume flax or chia seeds every day in order to get EPA and DHA?
The answer is No as there are other source of EPA and DHA.
The other sources of EPA and DHA include:
- Algae Oil
- Cow ghee
These are great options for vegans and vegetarians to get EPA and DHA from non-fish sources.
- Algae Oil: Algae is a marine organism which is also cultivated in laboratories for its unique oil. The oil is a rich source of Omega – 3 fatty acids.
- It provides a great plant-based alternative if a person is vegan or vegetarian.
- Certain species of algae are especially rich in two of the main types of omega – 3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. These species are cultivated for their oil content.
- Algae is considered as a primary source of omega – 3 fats as all fish get their omega – 3 content by eating algae.
- As algae oil contains omega – 3 and omega – 9 fatty acids. These fatty acids can reduce the inflammation, improve levels of some fats in the blood and help with brain function.
- Cow Ghee: Ghee is also known as Ghrita and it is extensively used in Ayurveda practice. Ayurvedic physicians recommend intake of cow ghee in the daily diet and it is also used in Panchakarma and as Anupana (vehicle) for the absorption of various medicines. In Ayurveda, 8 kinds of ghee from different animals have been mentioned. Among them ghee prepared from cow milk is said to be superior.
- Cow ghee is a major source of DHA; Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. It contains Mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), Poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and Omega -3 fatty acids.
- According to Ayurveda, cow ghee protects the body from various diseases as well as promotes longevity.
- It stimulates digestive fire and improves absorption and assimilation of the nutrients.
- It nourishes the dhatus (tissues), improves memory and has the property of lubrication.
- Most of these are known to be imparted by anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids like DHA.
- It has been observed that there is a consistent increase in DHA content in desi ghee prepared by traditional method which is fermentation. This may be attributed due to rich microbial flora of starter curd culture.
- Ayurveda classics has also mentioned about enhanced therapeutic qualities of very old ghee.
- Thus, it can be concluded that ghee prepared by traditional method as described in Ayurvedic classics contains higher amount of DHA with beneficial effects on human health.
Thus, there are effective options available for vegans and vegetarians in addition to chia and flax seeds.
This article is not a substitute to the standard Medical Diagnosis or personalized Ayurvedic Treatment! It is intended only for Information!
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