This is a guest post by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
If you have been following along, you know from the article “Get a Grip on Fatty Acids” that the right ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids promotes lower cholesterol.
The goal is not to cut omega 6 fatty acids (such as corn oil, beef, and chicken) completely from the diet, but to achieve a ratio of 4:1 or 1:1 omega 6 to omega 3. In order to attain this ratio you need to increase your omega 3 intake.
Your options for doing this:
1. Eat fish at least twice a week.
If you like fish, this would be my first choice. Fish contains DHA. Research is starting to indicate health benefits linked to DHA alone. Be aware of mercury content of fish, especially if you are pregnant.
2. Take a fish oil supplement.
Start with the smallest bottle you can find and make sure you do not have the unpleasant side effect of burping with a fishy aftertaste. Not everyone has this problem, so you may be fine. To decrease likelihood of this problem I recommend taking the supplement and then eating. That way, something is “on top” of the fish oil. Fish oil has a tendency to go rancid, so keep supplement refrigerated, especially if you buy a bottle of 250 or more.
You can buy flaxseed two different ways – whole seed or ground. In order for the body to utilize the omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed must be ground. If the flaxseed is not ground it passes straight through the body without being absorbed. Flaxseed is high in fiber, so by ingesting whole flaxseed you have increased your fiber intake, which is beneficial, but if you grind your flaxseed you will have the added benefit of increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake and lowering cholesterol.
Using a coffee grinder is a simple way to grind your flaxseeds. Another option is to purchase flaxseed already ground. Flaxseed has a tendency to go rancid, for this reason keep ground seeds refrigerated. You can increase your intake by adding flaxseed to foods during preparation, such as spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chili, hot cereal, muffins, pancakes, and yogurt.
4. Flaxseed oil supplement.
Provides the omega 3 fatty acid ALA in a simple supplement. Now, ALA is not as effective as DHA and EPA at lowering cholesterol, but still results in an improved ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Again, may go rancid so refrigerate.
5. Add omega 3 nut and seed sources to your daily intake.
Especially walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, and sesame seeds. Nuts are high calorie, so watch your intake. If you gain weight, you are not doing your heart any favors!
Now, if you would like some one-on-one help to lower cholesterol, check out Lower Cholesterol Levels 2.0, offered by Lisa Nelson, registered dietitian.