Let’s talk about omega-3, baby

Over the weekend I had a realization: it had been almost a month since I last had sushi! I was really craving it, and luckily my friend Chris and his roommate were more than happy to go for a sushi dinner with me on Sunday. We tried out a new place called Kawa Sushi House, which recently opened downtown on Piccadilly Street.

I started off with the wakame salad, which I’ve been obsessed with ever since I tried it a month or two ago. If you think eating seaweed is gross, it might surprise you with how delicious it tastes!

I ordered two rolls: a salmon roll and a tuna roll. I also ate the 3 pieces of California roll from Chris’ bento box, since he doesn’t like them. I don’t get how he doesn’t like them, but hey, more for me!

I was a little disappointed with the sushi here. It was pretty dry and didn’t taste that fresh. Also the rolls were really tiny, unlike sushi I’ve had at other restaurants in London. Overall it just wasn’t that satisfying… guess I’ll have to go out for sushi again soon to make up for it!

KAWA Sushi on Urbanspoon

Since I’m already talking about fish here, now is a good time to pull out my nerd glasses and talk a little science with you about a favourite health topic in the media lately: omega-3s. Obviously we all know they’re good for us, but I think what the average person doesn’t know is that not all omega-3’s are created equal!

omega3Source

Types of omega-3s:

ALA, EPA, DHA… I’m sure these are all terms you’ve heard before, but don’t quite understand the difference between them – right? Well I’ll try to clear things up!

ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is what we call an essential fatty acid because our bodies cannot make it, so we must get it from our food. These foods include walnuts, flax seed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

Theoretically, ALA is then converted to other omega 3 fats in our bodies in a chain of reactions that looks like this:

ALA -> -> -> EPA -> DHA

Since EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) can be made in the body, they are not considered essential nutrients. BUT… that conversion in our bodies is super inefficient because the enzymes are busy working on other conversions. Namely, conversions in the omega-6 family. And because we eat so many more omega-6’s than omega-3’s, those enzymes are super busy!

So even though EPA and DHA aren’t technically considered “essential” it’s still best to get them from the diet.

Sources of EPA and DHA:

The best sources of EPA and DHA are fish – especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. There are also some foods that may be fortified with EPA and/or DHA such as eggs and milk, but these foods can be pretty expensive. You will also need to read the labels of these foods to make sure they are fortified with EPA/DHA and not ALA.

In general, most plants are very poor sources of EPA and DHA. So if you don’t eat fish, you can get these nutrients from fish oil pills. But read the label carefully to make sure they contain DHA and EPA. Another alternative way you can get DHA and EPA is from certain microalgaes – check your health food store for supplements.

And just a quick reminder about the benefits of EPA and DHA:

  • They produce anti-inflammatory compounds in the body
  • They are good for cardiovascular health and help to prevent heart disease
  • DHA is important for optimal brain and visual function
  • Having sufficient levels of EPA and DHA may help to prevent depression
  • EPA and DHA may help to prevent or slow certain chronic diseases, such as arthritis, alzheimer’s, and inflammatory bowel diseases

Where do you get DHA and EPA in your diet?

17 Comments

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17 Responses to Let’s talk about omega-3, baby

  1. I absolutely adore sushi, but lately for some reason it's been making me a bit squeamish. So I've been having shrimp tempura rolls, avocado rolls, and cuke rolls. it seems to satisfy my craving perfectly. I also *love* that seaweed salad. I picked some of that up from my local Korean market last week and nibbled at it constantly until it was gone.I eat a good amount of fish, so I guess that's how I get most of my EPA and DHA. If you're not going to eat fish or take fish oils, I guess you'd need to cut back on consumption of omega 6's so your body is free to process the ALA. Would that make sense?

  2. Keep the science lessons coming! I love your explanations, so much more interesting and easy to comprehend than textbook explanations. Sounds like I actually don't get enough EPA and DHA haha. I'll look into these fish oil pills.

  3. I usually love trying little "unknown" restaurants, they usually have the best menus and food. Too bad the sushi wasn't the best there! I actually have tried Sushi, but my mom and I are going for it this week, any recommendations?I love your nerdy lessons! :)

  4. I'm sorry to hear the sushi you had wasn't up to par! But like you said, now you can go somewhere else and order it again ;)I personally loveeee sushi. I am a big fan of the raw kind simply served over rice- tuna, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp are among my favoritesI also like getting my omega-3s in with walnuts! They are my favorite type of nut and tastes great in my morning cereal/oatmeal and sprinkled on top of a salad

  5. I've never had sushi before! It freaks me out haha! But I do eat lots of seafood and fish…gotta get those omega-3s! :)

  6. I had sushi for lunch and it tasted divine. Salmon avocado is without a doubt my fave. Great way to get my omega 3 and healthy fats fix! For veggies, chia seeds and flax seeds are ideal sources of omega 3s as they can be added to anything without altering the taste.

  7. I love sushi! I think I have it just about once a week. I love the tuna roll with brown rice, or this really fancy shmancy roll called the Manhattan Roll. Inside is shrimp and avocado, and on top of it is spicy tuna and sprinkled with tempura bits. Not that healthy but sometimes I like to just splurge. I also love the rainbow roll!

  8. I haven't had sushi in forever! My favorite is the avocado peanut roll at my favorite sushi place. It's an avocado roll with the addition of a honey roasted peanut. It's delicious!I didn't know all this info about essential fatty acids! I'm so glad you brought it to my attention. I immediately went to check the supplement that I take, and let out a sigh of relief when I saw that it does contain the types I need.

  9. Oh dear, now you reminded me that it's been too long since I had sushi, too…and too long since I had fish, for that matter! I usually prefer sashimi, but when it comes to sushi…the unauthentic baked sushi rolls are sooo good!

  10. i love California rolls too- yea my mom doesnt like them and im always taking hers.. i dont get why some people dont like Cali rolls… pretty much all sushi is good sushi!!ps. your wish is my command, ur on my blogroll ;)

  11. I had sushi last week, after having stayed away for a very long time! I love tuna and avocado rolls, with extra wasabi! The restaurant's seaweed salad, however, had the texture of rubber bands. It was different, but not bad!I hope you don't mind, I've added you to my blogroll!

  12. sushi is awesome! i am really just in love with raw tuna actually, i can skip the rice part :)

  13. LOVE sushi! My fav is prob an avocado and cream cheese roll. :)

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