The Case for Omega-3s has Never Been Stronger!

Education, Uncategorized

Case For Omega3s Has Never Been Stronger!

Recent research findings continue to support the case that EPA and DHA Omega-3s – the omega-3s found in fish and fish oil – are an essential pillar of a properly balanced and healthy diet.

FDA Revises seafood intake during pregnancy – a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) showed that a deficiency in Omega-3 of the mother’s diet during pregnancy is linked to a lower IQ of the child during later years of childhood.  While many people believe that mercury content of fish is a big concern, in fact Omega-3 deficiency from not eating fish is a much larger and more severe dietary issue. Recent findings indicate that the benefit of getting enough omega-3 for both mother and child is far more important than the potential risk of consuming mercury. An infant needs DHA omega-3 to develop normally and it good for mothers, too. Many well-read dietitians and nutritionists have long known that the challenge is for mothers to get enough seafood, not to worry about them consuming too much!

In June of this year, as a result of a careful review of recent dietary research, the FDA and EPA updated its published guidelines for seafood intake during pregnancy. Instead of previous confusing recommendations that pregnant mothers limit seafood consumption to not more than 12 ounces per week, the FDA and EPA now recommend that mothers eat at least two  (and up to three) servings of fish per week during pregnancy for proper child development. In their official updated advice, FDA notes, “The nutritional value of fish is especially important during  growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breastfed infants, and in childhood.”

EPA and DHA Omega-3s help lower blood pressure – In March, a landmark scientific review of over 70 randomized controlled trials that were designed to study blood pressure was published. The review found significant scientific agreement that consumption of over 2000mg of EPA and DHA Omega-3 per day was just as or more effective at lowering blood pressure as other common lifestyle interventions, such as limiting sodium, getting exercise, or limiting alcohol consumption. This is significant, since about 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure, and many don’t even know it.  High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease.Blood Pressure Chart

 

Omega-3 consumption leads to Lower Healthcare costs – a recent study commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition found that nearly 98,000 hospitalizations for heart disease events could be avoided for a combined net savings of $348.8 million per year. These cost savings would be realized simply with enough Omega-3 consumption via supplementation. This is supported by prior research conducted by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, which found that as little as 250mg of EPA and DHA Omega-3s per day would reduce the risk of sudden death due to a heart attack by 1/3 or 35%.

Heart disease is a major issue – it is the number one killer of both men and women. It is estimated that nearly 7% of all adults in the U.S. have heart disease about 1 of every 6 deaths in the US is due to heart disease. The risk sharply increases with age, as over 16% of those over age 55 have heart disease.

The US lags the rest of the developed world by not having a recommended daily intake for EPA and DHA Omega-3 –Research has exploded in the last decade and the National Institutes of Health are behind in setting recommendations. Most countries in Europe recommend at least 250mg of EPA & DHA, and many suggest 500 mg EPA and DHA. Japan and Korea have recommended intakes as high as 2000mg/day of EPA and DHA Omega-3s. In the US, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per day for general health. The American Heart Association and American Psychiatric Association suggest 1000 mg per day of EPA and DHA for people with a history of heart disease or mood and impulse control problems.

The source of Omega-3s matters – Plant sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, and grains – like flax and chia seeds – deliver short chain omega-3s, which the body has difficulty efficiently transforming into the long-chain Omega-3s EPA and DHA.  These short chain omega-3s just don’t work the same as premade EPA & DHA from fish, seafood, and fish oils.  EPA and DHA Omega-3s from Marine sources are necessary for good mental health, heart health, healthy eyes and maintaining proper joint health.

How do I get enough Omega-3s – food or supplements?  Food is always the best source– eating oily fish delivers the best forms of Omega-3s, Vitamin D, as well as other nutrients such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and selenium. It is also a fantastic source of protein for building and maintaining healthy muscles.

However, many people do not like to eat fish, cannot afford to eat fish regularly, or do not have regular access to high quality fish which isn’t breaded and deep-fried.  Unless you eat fish or take fish oil supplements every day, you are probably not getting enough Omega-3s in your diet. Thankfully, fish oil supplements can deliver affordable daily doses of EPA & DHA Omega-3s – a high quality supplement can deliver a meaningful amount for less than $1.00 per day. I try to eat fish several times a week, but I also make sure to take a fish oil supplement every day to fill in the gaps.

If you are planning to rely on eating fish to get all your omega-3s, the kind of fish eaten is very important: fatty ocean fish such as salmon and sardines have high levels of Omega-3s and some freshwater fish, like trout, have a good amount as well, but farmed tilapia, catfish or swai are fed lots of corn and soy and as a result have very little EPA and DHA Omega-3s. Pregnant women should avoid eating shark, swordfish, orange roughy, and eat not more than a can of albacore tuna a week.

Mankind grew up near the sea – civilization developed around eating fish and seafood. Omega-3 fats found in fish, seafood and fish oils. (good fats) are essential for your heart health, brain health, for managing your body’s natural inflammation  process  and most of all for prenatal and infant development.  However you get your Omega-3s, make sure you are getting enough in your diet every day to realize their full potential for making a difference in your health and daily life for you and your family.  Children need them, too.

Omega-3′s and Joint Health

Education

jointhealth.png

 

  • EPA and DHA omega-3s are essential nutrients for joint health.
  • Omega-3s help joints stay healthy and flexible in adults of all ages.
  • Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from regular consumption of sufficient fish oil.

Everybody needs omega-3s, but people who experience joint pain and stiffness or have rheumatoid arthritis have a special need for EPA and DHA, the long-chain omega-3s. These healthy fats, which are necessary for good nutrition, are specifically helpful for healthy joints, such as hips and knees.  Because our bodies cannot make EPA and DHA, we need to eat them in our diet.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints.  There are many types of arthritis but common to them all is joint pain, discomfort, and restricted mobility.  Arthritis affects more women than men and more adults over 45 years of age and older.  Over time, arthritis can seriously impair quality of life. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States[1].

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease distinguished by chronic inflammation in multiple joints in the body.  Individuals with RA experience joint pain, swelling, morning stiffness, limited flexibility, and impaired motion, all indicators of joint and tissue inflammation.

epadhajointshealthyandflexiblecopy.png

How do omega-3s work?

EPA and DHA omega-3s are important for people with joint pain and stiffness and for people with RA because they strengthen the immune system and help lower inflammation in joints and tissues. Research has identified that omega-3s work in several ways. For example, EPA omega-3 is directly and indirectly involved in reducing inflammation while EPA and DHA together help manage joint mobility and restore joint and tissue health. Plus there is an added benefit: people with RA have a higher risk for heart disease and EPA and DHA are well known for supporting good heart health[2],[3],[4].

Many studies using fish oil for joint health and RA have been completed over the past 20 years. Studies have reported improvement in several RA symptoms after daily consumption for several months of at least 3 grams of EPA and DHA omega-3: less joint pain, smaller number of painful joints, less morning stiffness (shorter duration), and less use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications. Research also shows continued improvement with consistent supplementation.  Conversely, it is important to note that studies routinely report no benefit for RA until at least 3 months of regular supplementation and no reduction of symptoms from consuming less than 1000 mg EPA and DHA per day[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10].

Regular consumption is key.RA research consistently reports that regular consumption of sufficient amounts of EPA and DHA is key to reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

How much to consume

It is recommended that individuals with joint pain and stiffness consume 1,000 – 2,000 mg EPA and DHA per day. For individuals with RA, daily doses of at least 3 grams (3,000 mg) of EPA and DHA with relatively more EPA than DHA are suggested4,6,7,8.  (Note: Research has shown good results with up to 6 grams per day, but it’s best to talk with your doctor or dietitian before consuming this much omega-3).

Read labels carefully.The amount of fish oil per serving is not the same as the amount of EPA and DHA per serving.  Be sure to read the label for mg of EPA and DHA.

Because frequent and substantial consumption of omega-3 rich fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, is essential for improving arthritis, consuming enough omega-3s in the diet can be challenging. For people who don’t like fish or who won’t eat fish, and for those who want the convenience and reliability of a supplement, purified and concentrated fish oil supplements are an effective choice. Fish oil supplements (capsules or liquid) should be taken with food, all at one time (with a meal) or over the day.

Summary

Regular consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3s supports joint health and helps reduce joint stiffness as well as symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when consumed over long periods of time. In addition, omega-3s support the heart and healthy blood pressure levels, improve mood, and provide good nutrition, all attributes that contribute to better health and more youthful aging.

screen-shot-2013-09-04-at-1.01.35-pm.png

By Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN ©All rights reserved 2014

About the author: Gretchen Vannice, the Omega-3 RD, is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and consultant who specializes in omega-3 fatty acids and natural foods. She is a strategist, trainer, speaker, and author. Gretchen is lead author of the “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Fatty Acids for Healthy Adults” published January 2014 and author of the Omega-3 Handbook: A Ready Reference Guide for Health Professionals. She can be reached at www.omega3handbook.com.

Disclaimer:  Written by an independent nutritional expert, this information is provided for educational purposes only.  It is not intended as medical advice.  Always consult your healthcare provider for medical advice.

References


[1] http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsadultdisabilitycauses/

[2] Calder PC.  n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases.  Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83(6 Suppl):1505S-1519S.

[3] Walsh N. Fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis. Family Practice News, 2004;34(20).

[4] Hill C, Gill TK, et al. The use of fish oil in the community: Results of a population-based study. Rheumatology 2009;48:441-442.

[5] Fortin PR, Lew RA, et al. Validation of a meta-analysis: The effects of fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis. J Clin Epidemiol 1995, 48(11):1379-1390.

[6] Kremer JM. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:349S-351S.

[7] Goldberg RJ, Katz J.A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain.Pain, 2007;129(1-2):210-223.

[8] Lee YH, Choi SJ, et al. AB0613 omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: A meta-analysis. Ann Rheum Dis 2013;71:673.

[9] Galarraga B, Ho M, et al. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2008;47:665-669.

[10] Proudman SM, Cleland LG, James MJ. Dietary omega-3 fats for treatment of inflammatory joint disease: Efficacy and utility. Rheum Dis Clin North Am 2008;34(2):469-479.

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe

Fish Dish of the Month, Products

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe

After making the Orange Burst smoothie a few months ago, I was happy to try this Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie with Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Peak Omega-3 Liquid. Smoothies are my way of getting several nutrients in a single serving. My go-to smoothie includes berries, chia seeds, spinach and sometimes other fruits or greens. I wanted to try this fish oil in a berry smoothie to see if it would make any difference in flavor.

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe   Peak Omega-3 Liquid Supplement Facts

The Peak Omega-3 Liquid is a great source for Omega-3s. It has 2,150 mg of EPA + DHA per serving. That’s a lot for just one teaspoon! They have different sizes of bottles, so you can just get the 12 servings to try it out and make sure you like it first, which is great.

The flavor of this fish oil is so good, you can’t even tell it’s fish oil. It makes this smoothie taste more like a dessert than a healthy beverage. I would recommend trying it with several different smoothie recipes including this one.

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

5 medium sized frozen or fresh strawberries

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon black chia seeds

1 teaspoon Wiley’s Finest Fish Oil Peak Omega-3 Liquid – Naturally Lemon Flavored

1 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer and sometimes I use just water)

2 ice cubes (optional, usually used when not using frozen fruits)

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe  Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe

 

Directions:

Place blueberries, strawberries, spinach, chia seeds, Peak Omega-3 Liquid, and almond milk into blender. Pulse 10 times and blend on high for 1 minute. If more liquid is needed add 1/4 cup of water or until it blends easily.

Lemon Berry Omega-3 Smoothie Recipe

Pour smoothie into a 16 oz cup. Now enjoy this delicious Lemon Berry Smoothie! Be sure to refrigerate any leftover.

I hope you enjoy this smoothie as much as I did. The flavor is great and it even has an award winning taste, so you know it’s really good. Be sure to try it in your next smoothie! Buy it here.

Peak Omega-3 Liquid Taste Award

Healthy Pregnancy: Third Trimester

Pregnancy, Prenatal DHA

The third trimester is marked by little feet kicking your ribs, going to the bathroom all the time, and just feeling incredibly big. I am getting pretty tired of hitting counters, cabinets, doors, etc. with my big belly. This is  a time of preparation gathering up the last items you need to welcome your child into the world and, above all, patience. I find it helpful to remind myself the baby really does need those last few weeks and days to grow and develop before they are ready to make their grand entrance. Part of your preparations should continue to include healthy habits as you get ready for the work of labor and delivery and the first few weeks postpartum.

Healthy Eating:

  • Eat nutrient rich meats. The last trimester the baby needs lots of DHA and your iron requirements really jump. Eat fatty fish several times a week to get more DHA (think salmon, sardines, and herring). Red meat and organ meats (livers and hearts) are amazing sources of heme-iron, although I will admit I really don’t like organ meats so I just take a supplement (see below).

Exercising:

  •  Be mindful of the bump. The baby takes up a lot of room now and it quite heavy, which can throw you off balance. Just be careful when exercising and stay away from twisting, bending over, and lifting heavy items (like your toddler).

Supplements:

  • More DHA! The baby’s brain and eyes go through a final growth spurt in the third trimester and baby needs a lot of DHA. To be sure you’re getting adequate amounts of DHA, a supplement is really best. The Prenatal DHA has 600 mg of DHA per serving, but you should consider taking 900 mg (3 pills) of DHA in the last trimester. I am currently taking 3 Prenatal DHA softgels and 1 teaspoon of Peak Omega-3 Liquid a day so baby gets enough DHA for their brain and eyes and mommy gets enough EPA for the back aches.
  • Iron. Many women become anemic during the third trimester so you should consider an iron supplement. You can have your doctor or midwife do a simple blood test for anemia especially if you are feeling very tired all the time. Iron supplements can cause nausea and constipation. There are also a couple different forms of iron salts that can be used to make iron supplements. The most bio-available and gentlest form is ferrous gluconate. The liquid, herbal iron supplements are generally agreed (by myself and friends) to have the fewest side-effects. I would recommend trying Floradix Iron and Herbs or Gaia PlantForce Liquid Iron.

For more information about the importance of DHA while pregnant and nursing, see our blog post by Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN.

 

37 weeks

Just a few more weeks until baby Wiley #2 arrives!

Spicy Korean Fish Soup (Maeuntang) Recipe

Fish Dish of the Month

Spicy Korean Fish Soup (Maeuntang)

 

When contemplating what way I should prepare seafood my mind always leaps to memories of Korean food—bubbling jjigae impossible to consume without tearing up, spicy sauted squid eaten over rice for breakfast, fish cakes sold by teasing street vendors, and exquisitely fresh octopus still wriggling and clinging to my throat while I swallow. However, in the Midwest it is nearly impossible to find anything but a pale imitation of the delicious Korean food I fell in love with in Seoul, unless you prepare it yourself that is or are fortunate enough to know an indulgent ahjumma. So in a fit of nostalgia—and the demands of a deprived palate—I decided to tackle making maeuntang (spicy fish stew) over the weekend.

One of my favorite aspects of Korean cooking is plethora of vegetables found in the dishes, as well as the predilection for incorporating meat or seafood cuts often ignored in American cuisine. The use of bones and the fish head in this soup infuse the soup with oodles of nutrients and a delicious flavor. Another appealing trait of many Korean dishes is how simple and swift the dish prep and cooking time often are despite extensive ingredient lists, making them ideal for pulling together swiftly after long work days. All the ingredients for this dish should be easy to locate at a local Asian grocery.

Prep Time: 20 minutes. Cooking Time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole fish (cod or snapper is preferable)
  • 1 1/2 cups Korean radish (daikon can also be used)
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 bunch of edible chrysanthemum leaves (ssukgat or shungiku)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1-2 handfuls of bean sprouts
  • 2 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 small bunch enoki mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soju or cooking wine
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger root
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1 sheet of kelp (optional)

Using really fresh fish is key to this dish, maeuntang is actually often prepared in Korea alongside sashimi orders—creating another dish out of the fish pieces left over from sashimi preparation. If fresh whole fish are not easily attainable where you live then fish fillets can be easily substituted. However, a whole fish is preferable since the head and bones give the soup’s broth its wonderful taste.

Ascertaining the freshness of prospective fish at your local fishmonger or market can seem slightly daunting, but there are a handful of easily recognizable indicators. Firstly, check the gills, they should be a deep red colour, if they have already changed to a dull rusty shade then the fish is spoiled. Another clear sign of freshness is bright clear eyes—older fish tend to have cloudy eyes. Also look for firm resilient flesh and a distinct lack of a fishy reek.

Spicy Korean Fish Soup

 

Prep~

Scale the fish (if necessary), wash it thoroughly in cold water, and remove the fins—kitchen shears are ideal for this task. Then cut it into several large chunks, reserving the head.

Spicy Korean Fish Soup 2

 

Scrub the radish and slice it thinly. Cut the ends off of the enoki mushrooms and then separate them. Gently wipe off any dirt on the shiitake mushrooms with damp paper towel and then thickly slice them.

Spicy Korean Fish Soup 3

 

Wash the chrysanthemum leaves and trim them into 6-7 inch long pieces, discarding the thicker portions of the central stalk. Rinse the bean sprouts and pat them dry. Peel the garlic cloves and ginger and chop them finely. Wash the green onions and slice them into ½ inch segments.

 

Cooking~

First prepare the stock by adding the radish slices, shiitake mushrooms, and kelp to the water and then simmering for 15-20 minutes. Note: if you aren’t keen on the idea of serving a finished dish with a fish head floating in it now is also a good time to add in the fish head. After 15-20 minutes discard the kelp (and fish head if added earlier) and skim off the broth.

Spicy Korean Fish Soup 5

 

Add the gochujjang, pepper flakes, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and fish to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the fish is completely cooked, 15 minutes or so. Then add the green onions, bean sprouts, tofu, and chrysanthemum leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes longer till the tofu is warmed and the vegetables are lightly cooked. Serve it alongside hot rice.

A delightful bonus to Korean soups is that in addition to providing a vibrant, healthy combination of vegetables and protein, they also keep quite well and reheat easily. So I love making them on the weekend and indulging in the leftovers throughout the week. You can also vary the components of maeuntang extensively to suit your preferences or whatever fresh produce you might have on hand that week. Common additions to the soup tend to be zucchini, fresh chilis, clams, shrimp, and water dropwart.

Spicy Korean Fish Soup 4

Testing Your Omega-3 Blood Levels

Education

Ed Note: A breakthrough has enabled scientists to develop My Omega Blood Test, to measure the balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in blood so that consumer’s know that a real problem exists so they can start to fix it. The test has been used by thousands of individuals who are now able to helps them make informed dietary decisions and determine whether their dietary changes are actually having the desired effect on their omega-3 and 6 blood levels. Our regular contributor Sarah reviews this great tool for learning more about your own personal Omega-3 levels.

When I was asked to test my Omega-3 levels, I was fairly confident of the result. My love of reading and cooking has propelled me through a whole host of books about nutrition (both conventional and alternative) and has given me the tools I need to make wise food choices for myself and my family. The ideal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is at least 1:1 (meaning that your Omega-3 levels should be equal to or higher than your Omega-6), and that’s what I expected to find. Boy, was I wrong.

But let’s back up a little bit. The test came through the mail in a tidy packet from My Omega Blood Test and was quite easy to use.

Omega-3 Blood Test

The package comes with two needles, which need to have their little purple tips pulled off before use, like so:

Needles

Then you massage the tip of the finger you want to prick (This is important to increase blood flow. I neglected to follow the instructions the first time around and so didn’t get enough blood for the test to work), wipe it with the provided sanitizing wipe, and then poke it with one of the two needles. I had to squeeze my finger a bit in order to cover the test area completely, but the whole ordeal was much less painful than getting a shot. There are two circular test areas that must be covered for the test to be accurate.

Test Area

Once you’re finished, the test goes into a sealed bag which fits neatly into a pre-addressed envelope. Pop it back in the mail, and you’re good to go.

After I sent in my test (the one with the correct amount of blood – it really is important to fill the test areas completely!), I received an emailed link to a the OmegaSense test site with login information to view the status of my test. Another two weeks later, my results were emailed to me.

The report you receive after taking this test is quite detailed. The first page after the cover shows you your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio with a helpful graph:

Omega-3 Blood Test Page 1

Ugh, the amount of red (Omega-6) in that picture was a surprise to me. My Omega-6 levels are nearly three times higher than my Omega-3s! This is of course discouraging, but it is also motivational, as it is forcing me to take a hard look at the reality of my eating habits. Here are a few things I have discovered:

1. I do not eat nearly as much fish as I think I do. People eat very little fish here in the States, so it is easy to imagine that because I eat more than the norm I am eating enough. That simply isn’t true. According to Dr. Frank Sacks, a Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard, in order to get my Omega-3s through diet alone, I ought to be consuming at least one serving of fatty fish daily. Eating fish once or twice a week, as I usually do, is not eating a lot of fish, and it is certainly not eating enough fish.

2. My haphazard approach to supplement-taking must go. I have a neat little row of pill-bottles on my shelf, each one of which I have thoroughly researched. But truthfully, I have no idea how often I actually take them. As is often the case with us parents, I am much more diligent about my children’s fish oil consumption than my own. They both take Wiley’s Finest Orange Burst Liquid every morning, and, according to my three-year-old daughter’s reasoning, it’s the “medicine which makes me big enough to ride my big girl bike!”

3. I have fallen further from my nutritional ideals than I had realized. To be fair to myself, we’ve undergone a quite a lot of upheaval in the past few months, from a death in family that completely changed our plans to a sudden move and an adjustment to our new circumstances. But now is a good time to put away processed foods (which are not only generally nutritionally inferior, but are also often horribly high in Omega-6 fatty acids) in favor of a return to vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish.

Fortunately for me, the test report also comes with a recommendation page. Some of the information was new to me; some of it I knew already but had forgotten to consider when at the grocery store.

Omega-3 Blood Test Page 2

According to this report, I have two basic steps to take from here.

The first is to examine what kind of fat content I’m getting from my food. According to both the Mayo Clinic and the Union of Concerned Scientists (This is a long report, but it’s very interesting and informative, should you be inclined to read it), milk and meat from pasture-fed cattle tend to have higher levels of Omega-3s then do their conventional counterparts. Aside from just generally eating more fish, making sure my meat and dairy contain high-quality fat seems to be the most significant dietary change I can make.

The second, and, likely most important step (at least at this remedial stage), is to dramatically increase my Omega-3 supplementation. Four grams of EPA/DHA Omega-3 (the kind found in fish oil) is the recommended daily amount for someone with my blood levels. That’s a whole lot of fish oil. The easiest way I could find to consume such a high amount daily is to take two teaspoons of Wiley’s Finest very concentrated Peak Omega-3 Liquid daily. This stuff both tastes great and makes ingesting the recommend amount of Omega-3s much easier than taking a handful of giant pills. In order to track how regularly I’m taking it, I wrote the date I started on the bottle in sharpie.

Peak Omega-3 Liquid Fish Oil

I’ll continue with this level of supplementation until I take the recommended retest in November. I’m excited to see what a few simple changes in my diet might mean for my overall health.

I highly recommend testing your Omega-3 levels for yourself. This certainly has been an eye-opening experience for me, and I’m finding it much easier to make wise choices once I’ve faced the truth about the choices I’ve been making.

So what’s for dinner tonight? Well, I’m currently deciding between Katie’s reinvented Tuna Noodle Casserole and our old standby, Salad Niçoise. Either way, it’ll be delicious.

{This article is not intended to provide or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice.}

Smoked Salmon Pasta Primavera

Fish Dish of the Month

It’s Monday afternoon, my husband (a.k.a. the head chef) is out of town, and I didn’t thaw any meat for dinner. I have no idea what to make and am not feeling creative. Pinterest to the rescue!

I searched through Wiley’s Finest’s own Pinterest board of sustainable seafood recipes and found one for a smoked salmon pasta, which reminded me I had a large smoked sockeye salmon fillet in my pantry. I printed off the recipe and stopped by the grocery store on my way home to pick up the ingredients I didn’t already have.

IMG_0509

Ingredients:

1 pkg whole wheat spaghetti (7-8oz)

1 bunch of asparagus

1 can sliced mushrooms (4 oz)

several handfuls of fresh spinach

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup half and half

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or Asiago)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or bouillon)

8 oz wild Alaskan smoked salmon (see note)

butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Note: You can use either a shelf stable (not refrigerated) or refrigerated smoked salmon. It is usually easier to find smoked salmon in the refrigerated section, but specialty grocery stores will usually carry a shelf stable smoked salmon. I got my 24 oz package at Costco.

Start by cooking the pasta according to package directions. Throw the chopped up asparagus into the boiling water during the last 3 minutes or so. Drain pasta and asparagus and set aside. You can add a little olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

Saute mushrooms in 1 part olive oil and 1 part butter to remove water and brown slightly. Add mushrooms to pasta and asparagus. Throw in the spinach at this point so it starts to wilt.

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in saucepan and add garlic. Cook garlic for about 1 minute. Add half and half and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted being careful not to bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in broth and salmon until heated through. Pour sauce over pasta mixture, stir, and serve.

IMG_0513

I added spinach to the pasta at the last minute because I thought the dish needed more vegetables. I just threw some fresh spinach right into the hot pasta mixture and stirred until the leaves wilted a bit.

This makes a great weeknight meal, which can be rounded out with a side salad although I did not have the energy to make a side salad for myself on this occasion. The pasta is usually a hit with my toddler and she even ate some salmon after I threatened to take away her ice cream dessert if she didn’t eat any. Of course, once she tried some salmon she loved it and ate much more, but not enough to ruin her appetite for ice cream (smart girl, uh?). I always like it when I can move beyond grilling or pan frying fish to a recipe that doesn’t involve cooking the fish at all!

Healthy Pregnancy: Second Trimester

Uncategorized

Time really flies by with the second pregnancy. I remember counting the weeks when I was pregnant with my daughter, but this time around I couldn’t believe it when I reached the halfway point already! You know you are in the second trimester when you stop feeling so queasy and your energy returns to a more normal level. And there’s that little baby bump that starts to grow! As pregnancy moves along, here are some more tips for staying healthy.

Baby Wiley

Baby Wiley is ready to party

Healthy Eating

  • Eat a varied diet of fresh, unprocessed foods. By this point, you should be over most of the morning sickness and be able to enjoy more foods. It is important to continue eating a large variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and proteins to get as much of the extra nutrients you and baby need from your diet. 
  • Avoid those sugar and simple carb cravings. Okay, I really don’t like the eating “don’ts”, but this is the point when I start craving ice cream and chocolate every night. I keep lots of sweet fruits on hand to snack on instead like apples, oranges, and strawberries. Dried fruit is also great especially when high quality, fresh fruit isn’t available, like right now in the middle of an Ohio winter.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating more frequently helps keep your bloodsugar (and mood!) more stable. The smaller meals will become even more important as back takes up more room so you might as well practice eating all the time now.
  • Keep eating fish! The baby’s brain starts growing like crazy at this point so it’s extra important to get enough EPA and DHA omega-3s. If you need meal ideas using sustainable fish like wild Alaskan salmon and wild Alaskan pollock, check out our pinterest board.

Exercising

  •  You may need to start reducing the intensity of your exercises or find new ones that are less strenuous. As you and baby get bigger, you are more prone to injury as your center of gravity shifts and you loosen up in preparation for birth.
  • Stretches to ease lower back pain and prepare for birth. This is a good time to do some simple stretches throughout the day to ease lower back pain and help open up for birth. If you already practice yoga, you can do modified hip openers and moon salutations. If you have no idea hat those are, try tailor sitting, wide squats, or try some simple yoga poses like these from fitpregnancy.com: http://www.fitpregnancy.com/exercise/prenatal-workouts/poses-perks-what-prenatal-yoga-can-do-you

The second trimester is usually an exciting time where you actually feel pretty good. By continuing healthy practices, you’ll be able to enjoy this time in your life as you get ready to welcome a new member of the family.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.07.02 PM

Me and Baby Wiley launching the new Prenatal DHA at Natural Products Expo West

Retailer Highlight – New Leaf Community Market (Capitola)

News, Retailer Highlight

Sunny days don’t come often here in the Monterey Bay Area of California. Recently, however, the sun appeared for a brief glorious day, and my family and I took the opportunity to take a little scenic drive up the coast to New Leaf Community Market in Capitola. This little trip ended up being a mini-adventure for my family and me, as we got to explore the beautiful Santa Cruz area (we found a sweet little surf spot just down the road from the store!) and to discover the bounty of New Leaf.

New Leaf Community Markets are all about local connections, as their name makes clear. Their mission is “to nourish and sustain our community” and they donate more than 10% of profits to local non-profit groups. Clearly, their mission is not just to provide healthful, responsibly sourced food and health products, but also to support the local producers and the local economy. I can wholeheartedly support that mission.  And this very commitment to the local community would end up being a consistent theme throughout our visit.

When we first arrived I was struck by two things: one, how compact the store was, and two, how neat the layout was. Many times in health food stores, particularly ones with smaller layouts, I’ve felt overwhelmed by too many choices, crammed unattractively in every nook and cranny, but New Leaf avoids this problem. It’s really a lovely store and a joy to browse through.

Our first stop was at the milk case. I was so excited to find that they carry Claravale Farms raw milk. Here in California raw milk can be sold in stores from two certified providers, Claravale Farms being one of them. Their milk is 100% Jersey milk, which means it’s creamy—so very creamy! I think our quarts had 2 or 3 inches of cream at the top! Leaving milk unprocessed not only preserves many nutrients intact, but also means the milk flavor can pick up the unique intricacies of the area and even the season. These dairies are clean and ethically run, with happy, healthy cows producing good-quality milk. And it’s so fresh! Perhaps only a few days old, as opposed to other milk that can be weeks old before being consumed. For those who aren’t comfortable with raw milk, never fear, New Leaf also has many pasteurized options as well, focusing on organic and local dairies. I was quite impressed with the variety of options, as well as New Leaf’s care for presenting California goods to their customers.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.53.59 AM

We reached the back of the store where we found a well-stocked and beautiful produce department. Of course, here in the Salad Bowl it’s easy enough to get local produce, but I was struck by the vast selection of organics. Later, when we were checking out, the cashier informed us that about 90% of the produce is organic, with only a few exotic options from farther afield. She also informed us with palpable pride that one of their conventional tomatoes was a wonderful local product, responsibly grown, but the farmer could not afford the official organic certification. What a fantastic place, where even the clerks know and care for the tomato farmers!

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.57.10 AM

But New Leaf is not only concerned with local producers; we were also able to find some well-loved pantry staples in the carefully curated grocery section. As we wandered on through, we picked up some Wild Planet tuna. At my house, we love our tuna, but for a while I had thought we would have to give it up completely, as my concerns about sustainability and ethical fishing practices grew. Living near the Monterey Bay Aquarium has really helped us to educate ourselves about seafood choices and how to best support a healthy marine ecosystem. Wild Planet is doubly attractive to me, as I know I can rest assured about the sustainability of the product even while feeding my children’s insatiable appetites for fish, and I also know I can find it easily for a reasonable price. All facets of me as a mother—health-conscious chef, frugal shopper, and ethical consumer—are satisfied by a simple can of tuna!

I also noted that New Leaf stocks Food for Life wheat-free breads, including 7 Sprouted Grains and Ezekiel 4:9 breads. We try to limit our bread intake at our house, but Food for Life is such a nice treat for us—satisfyingly hearty, like a whole wheat bread, but with a good glycemic index score (good for blood sugars!) and complete protein.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.00.35 AM

I wish I could go into excruciating detail about the wine and craft beer selection, the beautiful cheeses, the mouthwatering salad bar and pre-made section, but you’ll just have to imagine how lovely they all were (or visit yourself! Some time around lunch would be a good time to sample the delicious looking salad bar). The meat and seafood counters were pretty spectacular, too—of course emphasizing local products and guaranteed to be free from additives and hormones, as well as ethically raised or caught. New Leaf clearly takes care to source their products with the whole person and the whole community in mind.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.02.52 AM

The beautiful salad bar

We then turned the corner into the extensive bulk foods section. I was a little overwhelmed with the selection of alternative grains, but ultimately decided to try some amaranth. This tiny “pseudo-grain” (like quinoa) can be cooked similarly to rice or quinoa and has an unusually high quality protein. Once I got home I was excited to try it—we used it as a rice substitute for dinner one night and as an oatmeal substitute for breakfast. It has a really earthy, nutty flavor, which is one of the pros of eating ancient grains—more flavor! I know that it was really a small victory, buying a new grain and cooking it successfully, but I feel good enough about my skills in the alternative-grains department now to look forward to going back to the bulk section for some new challenges! I’m always excited to find new ways to stretch my cooking skills and excite my palate.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.03.49 AM

We finished up our shopping time in the supplements and beauty department of the store. I think a pitfall that many specialty or health food stores fall into is the impulse to carry every supplement known to man, resulting in a cluttered section that’s impossible to peruse quickly. New Leaf, thankfully, obviously curates their health and beauty section as well and as thoughtfully as the rest of the store, because I found it clean, organized, and well, but reasonably, stocked. New Leaf has their own line of supplements called Bloom, and I’m trying their Vitamin D3 right now—I’m impressed with both the quality and the price!

New Leaf also carries MegaFood supplements, which are meant to boost a diet of whole foods with supplements as close to whole food as possible. MegaFood supplements are also non-GMO verified and quality assured, guaranteed to be free of gluten and soy and other contaminants. I’m currently taking their Blood Builder formulation as a way to combat anemia naturally. I’ve heard that most iron supplements can have some unpleasant side effects, but MegaFood’s promise to be gentle on the digestive tract definitely holds true for me—and my iron levels are doing great!

Of course, I also found Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil on the shelves as well. As a mom in the middle of her fertile years, it’s my responsibility to nourish my children well, whether while gestating, nursing, or feeding them at the table. The EPA and DHA found in fish and fish oil is so very important for children’s mental development and cellular health that I make sure to complement our diet (already high in fish consumption!) with fish oil every day. I would give my family fish oil even if I couldn’t find Wiley’s Finest products, but I’m so glad to use them because, besides providing a quality product that is essential to our good health, they are also committed to sustainability and ethical fishing practices. This just makes sense to me, as I would really like my great-grandchildren to be able to enjoy fish too!

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.04.37 AM

Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil

After a long trek with the whole family in tow, we were all a little tired, a little cranky. Thank goodness New Leaf has a wonderful little café called New Beet. In keeping with the New Leaf commitment to local products, the café menu clearly marked which ingredients were locally sourced, giving the customer the opportunity to customize their order to be wholly local, should they so desire. We saw happy families of fit mothers and their glowing children stopping in for wheatgrass shots, so we had to try something! We ended up sharing a delicious low sugar, high-antioxidant berry smoothie and a warm blueberry muffin. This gave us the strength and fortitude we needed to face the long drive back home!

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.11.42 AM

 

DHA Omega-3 and Pregnancy

Education

DHA Omega-3 & Pregnancy

 

DHA omega-3 and pregnancy

  • Before, during, and after pregnancy, DHA is an essential nutrient for mom and baby.
  • Moms have better moods and better health when they consume DHA during and after pregnancy.
  • Purified and certified fish oil supplements are a reliable and worry-free way for moms to get the DHA they need.

Most experts recommend that every pregnant woman consume at least 300 – 600 mg DHA each day, and that she consider more (e.g., 900 mg DHA/day) during the last trimester and first 3 post-natal months.

 

DHA is essential for pregnancyDHA omega-3 is an essential nutrient required during pregnancy.  It is necessary for normal and healthy development of the baby’s brain, eyes, and nerves while in the womb[1]. Consuming healthy amounts of DHA during pregnancy has long-lasting benefits for the child; consuming too little has been shown to put the child at risk for lower IQ and poorer social and communication skills at elementary-school age[2],[3],[4]. DHA omega-3 is found naturally in fatty fish, such as salmon and herring, and in dietary supplements.

Babies are completely dependent on their moms for DHA

The developing baby is completely dependent on mom for DHA.  Getting enough DHA during pregnancy is important because it provides nutrition for the baby’s growing immune and nervous systems. Getting enough DHA during the last trimester of pregnancy is crucial because the brain and eyes are developing rapidly during this time. The baby’s need for enough DHA is so strong that he or she will deplete the mom’s stores of DHA if the supply is low. This is why moms need to consume enough DHA for both of them. In addition, eye development and vision are not completely developed at birth so feeding the baby healthy levels of DHA from breast milk or formula helps vision continue to develop[5]. In addition, about one in ten women experience depressed moods after giving birth. Healthy levels of DHA have been shown to help improve moods in women before and after birth[6],[7],[8].

Most pregnant women consume far too little DHA

Research shows that pregnant women in North America consume far too little DHA; most consume less than 100 mg per day. Women following vegetarian or vegan diets consume even less.  Chia, walnuts, and flax seeds contain a different form of omega-3 that does not provide DHA[9],[10],[11],[12].

How much do you need?

Neither mom nor baby can make DHA in the body so it must be consumed through the diet or from supplements. Experts recommend getting at least 200 – 300 mg DHA per day, and some recommend up to 900 mg per day to cover the needs for mom and child[13],[14],[15],[16].

Minimum Daily DHA Intake Recommendations During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding13-16

United States experts 300 – 900 mg DHA
International Infant Research Group 200 mg DHA
World Health Organization (WHO) 300 mg EPA+DHA; at least 200 mg as DHA
DHA during pregnancy recommendation

Where to get DHA

Salmon, sardines, herring, and high-quality tuna provide the richest dietary sources of DHA.  Fish also provides lean protein and some minerals, but many pregnant women don’t eat fish regularly, or they eat fish that has low levels of DHA (like tilapia).  In addition, many pregnant women don’t eat fish due to worry over potential environmental toxins, such as mercury, lead, and PCBs.  While the U.S. government recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish a week[17], pregnant women and nursing mothers need to meet recommendations for DHA intake. This is why it’s important to be selective about the type of fish [see note below] or to consume fish oil supplements that have been purified. Selecting fish oil supplements that have been rigorously tested for quality and purity and certified by an independent third party, such as NSF® International or the International Fish Oil Standards Program, provides that reliable assurance.  Purified fish oil is available in capsules and liquids.

Supplementing with DHA fish oil works

It’s critical that pregnant women consume enough DHA because both mom and the developing infant need it during and after pregnancy. Purified DHA supplements from fish oil have been shown to be safe for both mom and infant, and they are a convenient and reliable way to ensure both mother and child get the DHA they need.

 

Note: The U.S. FDA and U.S. EPA currently recommend that women who may become pregnant, who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and young children eat a variety of fish but not more than 12 ounces per week, and that they avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. (Due to new evidence, this recommendation is currently under review.)  For more information about fish and seafood in your area, go to the U.S. EPA Fish Consumption Advisory website http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories/.

 

By Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN ©All rights reserved

About the author: Gretchen Vannice, the Omega-3 RD , is a registered dietitian nutritionist and consultant who specializes in omega-3 fatty acids and natural foods. She is a strategist, trainer, speaker, and author. Gretchen is lead author of the “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Fatty Acids for Healthy Adults” published January 2014 and Omega-3 Handbook: A Ready Reference Guide for Health Professionals. She can be reached at www.omega3handbook.com.

 Disclaimer:  Written by an independent nutritional expert, this information is provided for educational purposes only.  It is not intended as medical advice.  Always consult your healthcare provider for medical advice.

References


[1] Innis SM. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Res 2008;1237:35-43.

[2] Bakker EC, Hornstra G, Blanco CE, et al. Relationship between long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids at birth and motor function at 7 years of age. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007:1-6.

[3] Krabbendam K, Bakker E, Hornstra G, van Os J. Relationship between DHA status at birth and child problem behaviour at 7 years of age. Prostaglandins, Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2007;76(1):29-34.

[4] Hibbeln JR, Davis JM, Steer C. Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): An observational cohort study. Lancet 2007;369:578-585.

[5] Hoffman DR, Boettcher JADiersen-Schade DA. Toward optimizing vision and cognition in term infants by dietary docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid supplementation: A review of randomized controlled trials.  Prostaglandins, Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2009;81:151-158.

[6] Freeman MP, Hibbeln JR, Wisner KL, et al. An open trial of omega-3 fatty acids for depression in pregnancy.  Acta Neuropsychiatrica 2006;18(1):21-24.

[7] Ramakrishnan U, Imhoff-Kunsch B, DiGirolamo AM. Role of docosahexaenoic acid in maternal and child mental health. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89(3):958S-962S.

[8]  Hibbeln JR. Seafood consumption, the DHA content of mothers’ milk and prevalence rates of postpartum depression: A cross-national, ecological analysis. J Affect Disord 2002;69(1-3):15-29.

[9] Stark KD, Beblo S, Murthy M, et al. Comparison of bloodstream fatty acid composition from African-American women at gestation, delivery, and postpartum. J Lipid Res 2005;46:516-525.

[10] Nochera CL, Goossen LH, et al. Consumption of DHA+EPA by low-income women during pregnancy and lactation.  Nutr Clin Prac 2011;26(4):445-450.

[11] Denomme J, Stark KD, Holub BJ. Directly quantitated dietary (n-3) fatty acid intakes of pregnant Canadian women are lower than current dietary recommendations. J Nutr 2005;135:206-211.

[12] Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM. Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: Current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr, 2003;78:640S-646S.

[13] Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition: Report of an expert consultation. FAO Food Nutr Pap 2010;91:1-166.

[14] Hibbeln JR, David JM. Considerations regarding neuropsychiatric nutritional requirements for intakes of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids. Prostaglandins,Leukot & Essent Fatty Acids 2009;81(2-3):179-186.

[15] Koletzko B, Cetin I, Thomas BJ for the Perinatal Lipid Intake Working Group. Dietary fat intakes for pregnant and lactating women. Br J Nutr, 2007;1-5.

[16] Simopoulos AP, Leaf A, Salem N Jr. Workshop statement on the essentiality of and recommended dietary intakes for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Prostaglandins, Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2000;63(3):119-121.

[17] http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/advice_index.cfm