Have you noticed how many products have Omega 3 added? Omega 3 is the new health food buzzword – but have we been mislead by marketing hype?
Lois Smithers has written a fascinating exposé showing how confusing labeling of Omega 3 foods is undermining our health.
A quick rundown: The 3 fatty acids in the Omega 3 family are ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Generally ALA comes from plants and seeds, EPA / DHA come from fatty fish (salmon, sardines, etc).
A considerable amount of research has shown that EPA and DHA are good for our health.
However much of our oils consumed today are very high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Our modern diet has a very high ratio of Omega 6 versus Omega 3. The ratio has been linked with inflammation and health problems.
In 2004, the FDA issued a Health Qualifying Claim for EPA and DHA from fish (not ALA). This lead to the evolution of 317 products in 2007 that used this claim.
Smithers goes onto delve deeply into the research and exposes how most of the products that use this health claim have very little EPA and DHA at all. In fact the ‘omega-3’ is typically of the ALA kind – and also comes in the form of oils that are very high in Omega 6 !
In other words – when you buy a product marked “Omega 3” – you may actually getting a big dose of Omega 6 – and virtually no EPA and DHA at all. Rather than helping your health – you could be making things worse.
The book goes into a number of food labels and explains how to read between the lines – citing a considerable number of research articles.
This book has been one of a very few that I have endorsed. The author has spent considerable time getting to the truth of the matter and I found the book useful. If you have an interest in inflammation-related health issues – this may also be useful for you.
The book can purchased in more on Omega 3 here.