Kernels Program
By Jessica Beck, NCADD Sacramento Prevention Team

Have you felt tired lately? Are you sick with a cold or recently recovered from being sick? Have you noticed difficulties in remembering daily tasks?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions would you be willing to bet that all of those symptoms could be improved by a simple change in diet? It surprised me to learn that fatigue, poor memory, weakened immune systems and depression are all counted as early signs of an Omega-3 deficiency. In fact, Americans have the lowest intake of Omega-3 in any developed country!

I was shocked to learn that Omega-3 deficiency is counted as the 8th leading cause of preventable death in the United States! There is hope in that statistic, the key word being PREVENTABLE.

What does this mean for yourself and your family? It means that not only can this deficiency be avoided it can be reduced or removed altogether! In order to sustain the right amount of Omega, you must maintain a balanced diet of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake. Most American diets consist of unhealthy food choices such as; mayonnaise, fried foods, cakes and cooking with high margarine content. At this current time the typical American diet contains 14-25 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3! In fact, elevated levels of Omega-6 can actually promote inflammation and lead to chronic pain in the body.

So what exactly is Omega-3 and Omega-6? Omegas are essential fatty acids that are not produced by the body and must be consumed through foods or supplements to ensure optimal heath. By incorporating Omegas into family meals and daily diets you will see significant reductions in health risks and increases in the benefits for positive growth and development.

One awesome thing about introducing Omega-3 to your household is that everyone in your family can benefit from it.

  • For women who are pregnant, consuming eggs, which are enriched with Omega-3, can help avoid going into premature labor.
  • Infants can improve hand-eye coordination, attention span and social skills.
  • Children can reduce their risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by boosting their attention spans.
  • Teenagers can help reduce mood swings and depression onsets.
  • Young, Middle-Aged and Older Adults can all lower their rates of heart disease and cut the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 32%!

Now you’re probably thinking how can I get a balanced intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3? First reduce the amount of Omega-6 and increase the amount of Omega-3 in your diet. Foods that contain high content of Omega-6 include; refined vegetable oils, cookies, crackers and sweets. I know what your thinking, all the good stuff!

Most of us like fish but we can’t all depend on fish to supply our Omega-3 intake. It is always a good choice to get your Omega intake from supplements and they even make Omega gummy vitamins specifically for children! What kid doesn’t like gummy bears and these would be healthy for them to consume so it’s a win-win! You can also eat foods rich in Omega-3 such as; spinach, broccoli, strawberries, collard greens, cauliflower, walnuts, green beans, raspberries, tofu, squash and romaine lettuce to name a few. If you don’t want to take supplements or don’t like those food options you can make a simple change by incorporating Smart Balance Omega Butter in foods, or you can switch the oil you cook with to Canola Oil or Flaxseed Oil.

Regardless of which one you select, all of these options allow you to achieve a balanced diet of Omega-3 with the added benefit of choosing what works best for you and your family at a price you can afford.