Omega 3 fatty acids, known as EFAs, or essential fatty acids, are necessary to obtain from our diets and confer a myriad of benefits for our health when we get enough of them. On the other hand, not getting enough EFAs is associated with poor health; this is one of the reasons why low-fat does not necessarily equal a healthy diet. It’s essential whether you are on The Kaufmann Diet or not that you ensure you get enough of these in your diet.
EFAs are found in a variety of foods, including fish and other seafood, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds. There are three main types of EFAs; alpha linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DPA). ALA is primarily found in plant sources, like flax, chia, walnuts, and certain plant oils. Most people get plenty of ALA in their diets; which is good, because ALA is an essential fatty acid.
EPA and DPA, however, are found primarily in marine sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements. You can find foods fortified with these nutrients, but as far their natural occurrence, they come from animal-based sources. EPA and DPA are thought to be the fatty acids that confer the most benefit to our health. When you hear about the associate benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, these are the specific nutrients at work. They are also the omega 3 fats that are consumed in the smallest quantities, by and large, throughout the population.
Our bodies do convert some ALA into EPA and DHA, but this is a very inefficient process. So, simply consuming plant-based sources of EFAs does not guarantee that you are obtaining therapeutic amounts of the more potent, health-promoting EPA and DHA. For this reason, it is important to include sources of DHA and EPA into your diet. This can mean including fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, or mackerel, or it can mean supplementing with a good brand of fish oil containing DHA and EPA.
While foods contain ALA, such as walnuts and other plant sources of omega 3s are still healthy and likely confer a myriad of other health benefits, they are not a significant source of the most potent forms of omega 3s that we know are associated with good health. Fish and seafood are encouraged on the Kaufmann Diet, and fish oil remains a staple for your supplement regimen.