So ever since becoming a vegetarian, my mother has been telling me my brain is going to fall out unless I take fish oil. Why? Because as a vegetarian I wasn’t getting omega threes. I didn’t really know what those were, but I thought I could probably just have some flaxseed and be good. However, considering omega threes have not only been linked to heart health, but also to brain health, I figured a more thorough investigation was necessary. Here is what you need to know about omega threes and what you need to do in order to keep both your brain and heart healthy. To be lazy with my citations, unless stated otherwise, all my information has come from this very helpful article: http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/omega3. If you want to read the actual studies and graphs, I highly suggest looking through it!
So there are three types of omega 3’s (go figure)
- ALA – alpha-linolenic acid; found in a wide range of foods like flax seed, walnuts, and brussel sprouts
- EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid; found mainly in fish
- DHA – docosahexaenoic acid; found mainly in fish
As you can see, there are not very many natural sources of EPA and DHA. ALA is what is contained for the most part in flax seed, or any other high in omega threes vegetarian food. Lucky for us, the body can convert ALA into EPA and some DHA. So a diet with plenty of ALA helps to minimize the offset. Furthermore, according to whole foods there are about 60mg of DHA in a whole egg. Thus, by eating 4 eggs a day and flax seed, we should be good right? Wrong. In order to have the DHA levels of a non-vegetarian, you should be consuming about 300mg per day of DHA.
Doing this research was a little eye opening, all things considered. I’m pretty resistant to over-supplementation, and like to stick to just whey protein shakes, a multivitamin (with iron), and some digestive enzymes. However, after reading the research, I now believe that some DHA supplementation is necessary.For one thing, before coming a vegetarian I hated brussel spouts and walnuts. Now I love them. That is enough of a sign to me that I should be getting more omega threes!
With the eggs and flax seed that I already consume, I don’t think I have to take a supplement every day because of cost issues. So, with the 300mg DHA/day assumption, I need 300+7=2100 mg DHA a week. Assuming I get about 200 mg of DHA from eggs each day (round down for a conservative estimate) that leaves me with a deficit of 700 mg DHA per week. See the below calculation:
A lot of supplements contain 300mg of DHA. Thus, if I take a supplement three days a week, I should be golden. See mom? My brain is going to do just fine!
This Week in Updates:
I’m traveling a lot in June, so my buying habits are going to be wonky. I took full advantage of the fact that next week I’ll be living off the land (AKA staying at the parents house) to invest in smoothies a lot this week. What you don’t see on that receipt is a monster of a $10 kale smoothie. I also had a wonderful visit from Jesse’s parents!
Since I’m going to be buying more supplements, I made a wonderful discovery called Amazon Mechanical Turk. It’s a survey (a lot of colleges do it for research) site that pays you in Amazon credits. I’ve tried it out and it is legit. I get paid $1-$5 for a 10 minute to 30 minute survey. Given, that is less than minimum wage, however it is easy to do at work during lunch. This will help me offset the cost of the DHA supplements in my budget. As your rating gets higher on the site, you can do more and more higher paid surveys. One I say pays users $75! So as usual, I’ll keep you all updated, and if I get awesome at this, I’ll let you know all about it!
This Week I Felt Like…..
It’s been hot, and this is truly the best sorbet I have ever had!
The Recipe: Sugar Free Breakfast Oatmeal Cookies
These are moist, delicious, and very healthy with the flax seed added, though the sweetness really comes out after they spend a night in the fridge. I’d bake them the night before you eat them. After that, they are very much like banana bread, and beg for some chocolate chips. However, as is, 1/4 of this batch is exactly what I consume now every morning for breakfast, with the addition of 1/2 banana. Here’s to cookies and a glass of milk for breakfast! (They are also very good travel snacks!)
2 cups oatmeal
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup flax seed
4 large tablespoons peanut butter
4 tablespoons honey (or more if you like them sweeter)
Cinnamon and vanilla to taste
Put 1 cup of the oatmeal in the blender and blend until it is chopped into little bits. Do the same with the flax seed if it is not already ground. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and bake on greased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes at 350. Let sit in the fridge overnight, and enjoy bright and early with a glass of milk and cup of coffee!