[appears in the Oxford Review June 8, 2012] Considering that most North Americans are grossly undernourished when it comes to Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) it should come as no surprise that flaxseed have become a staple in many homes. I want to highlight flax and three other plant-based sources of omega-3 because they are so important to your long-term vitality.
Flax This amazing little seed has been used as a food source in the Middle East for thousands of years. You can purchase it in almost any grocery and health food store. It has a very pleasant nutty flavour and can be added to almost all breakfast cereals and plain yogurt.
The key to getting the most out of your flax is to make sure you grind/mill it. A coffee grinder works best. Using the ground flax as soon as possible is best as this limits oxidation.
Flax is loaded in the omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and has been shown to help with anxiety, stress and cortisol levels in human studies. Flax also comes loaded with protein, fibre, and lignans. It also contains some amazing natural phenolic glucosides, which have been shown to combat arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
Chia This seed became a cornerstone nutrition staple for the vast Aztec empire. It was used by the Aztecs to sustain them on long and arduous hunting and trading expeditions and in battle. Runners would relay messages throughout their immense kingdom relying only on chia for nourishment.
If you remember those commercial on TV for the Chia Pet then you have heard of chia before. Only this time you aren’t growing a plant you are nourishing yourself. [find it here]
Eating chia will provide you with the following nutrients:
100 grams of Chia provides (and is equivalent to eating):
- Omega-3’s (20g) = 1 ¾ lbs of Atlantic Salmon
- Vegetable Protein ( 21g) = 1 cup Kidney Beans
- Calcium (770mg) = 2 ½ cups of Whole Milk
- Fiber (35g) = 1 ¾ cups of All-BranTM
- Potassium (660mg) = 1 ¼ large Bananas
- Magnesium (380mg) = 10 stalks of Broccoli
- Folate (82.2mcg) = 2 oz of Asparagus
- Iron (7.9mg) = 10 oz of Spinach
- Vitamin C (540mg) = 7 medium Oranges
Chia contains so much more than Omega-3 is it worth a try. Also remember that Chia has the most fibre of any food including wheat bran. Frankly it has amazing bang for your buck.
Walnuts I remember cracking open walnuts each Christmas when we would get a big bag of mixed nuts. I always found the shape of walnuts so interesting compared to other nuts and recently realized their shape and that of a brain are similar. That isn’t just an idle comparison either as it turns out that walnuts are amazing for your brain health.
It a number of studies walnuts have been found to increase cognitive and motor function. Besides brain health they have been found to help the vascular system as well by decreasing endothelial dysfunction due to inflammation, and also to increase fat oxidation. Increasing fat oxidation means that walnuts help you lose weight.
Walnuts contain the most omega-3 compared to other nuts. They also contain an amazing about of protein as well.
Purslane A green mucilaginous plant that goes wild here in Ontario,purslane is the forgotten omega-3 salad green. In North America most people consider purslane a weed. However, in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico this plant powerhouse is considered a valuable food and is used extensively. The stem, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Due to its mucilaginous nature purslane can be eaten raw, sautéed, and is also suitable for soups and stews.
Purslane contains more omega-3 than any other leafy green vegetable at about 300-400mg per 100 grams. Some of the omega-3 found in purslane is of the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) variety. Actually, purslane has an extraordinary amount of EPA which is usually only found in fish oil.
You won’t find purslane at many grocers. You will have to grown some yourself. In fact, you might have some growing in your house right now and not even know it. My sister, (who just completed her first half marathon – I am so proud of her), has some growing in her kitchen at this very moment. Time to add some to your salad Alison!Read More →