Tina Ruggiero | Nutrition Expert, Cookbook Author and Spokesperson
Feb 27, 2007 by Tina Ruggiero
Feb 27, 2007 at 6:57 pm
I’ve been enjoying the updates. I do try to incorporate functional foods in my family’s meal planning and I have a question for you. How much Omega 3 and 6 should we be consuming weekly to effective decrease our risk of cancer and heart disease?
Feb 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm
Im happy to read youre enjoying my logs, and kudos to you for incorporating functional foods into your diet. Thats great!
To answer your question, there is no U.S. recommendation for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid consumption; however, according to the American Heart Association (americanheart.org), consuming 650 mg 900 mg per day of Omega-3 fatty acids is recommended. This translates into eating fish (i.e., tuna, cod, shrimp, halibut, trout and salmon) two four times per week and using olive and canola oil in cooking. In terms of Omega-6 fatty acids, most people get a sufficient amount. Studies show that 3% – 6% of total calories should come from Omega-6 fatty acids. For someone following a 2,000 calorie diet, thats the equivalent of 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or a small serving of nuts and seeds.
Carol P. RD says
Mar 1, 2007 at 7:54 pm
When it comes down to it, virtually every food can be considered “functional” for its contribution of nutrients to a person’s health and well-being. With the explosion of research and interest in food chemicals and microbiology, there is a flood of evidence that foods deliver body essentials. Questions being asked are also far more exploratory than ever, and that’s exciting.
Please know that no single food, nutrient or chemical is a panacea. Rely on common sense when making food choices. Read labels. Think colorfully when deciding what to eat. Etc……
Mar 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm
The importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is very important. But to cite Canola Oil as a good source while omitting Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaxseed Oil is a disservice to your readers. There is no Canola plant. Canola oil is an artificial concoction created in a laboratory in Canada from the Rapeseed plant an otherwise inedible plant.
Mar 5, 2007 at 4:34 pm
Carol: Your comments are well-taken. All foods do provide a functional benefit; however, when clients ask me what they should give up to lose weight or become healthier, I flip that perspective upside down and encourage them to eat more of certain foods vs. others. I believe when people make a conscientious effort to eat nutrient rich foods, they take a step closer to embracing a healthier diet. More than a passing fad, functional foods aka designer foods will revolutionize the way we think about eating and, hopefully, help individuals make positive lifestyle changes.
Arnold: Thank you for your thoughtful comments. In the U.S., canola and soybean oils are the most commonly consumed sources of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), an Omega-3 fatty acid. According to scientific research, canola oil actually contains more Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids than olive oil, though olive oil is a richer source of monounsaturated fatty acids. In terms of flaxseed oil, you are correct that it is a rich source of Omega-3s, yet its not suitable for cooking. (Its best on salads or used to top veggies.) A great way to reap the benefits of flax is to eat the seeds which have a nutty flavor and can be eaten on salads, used in cooking and baking or sprinkled on hot or cold cereal. Intake of the seeds should not exceed 3 4 Tablespoons per day.
Jakob Hunter says
Mar 16, 2007 at 10:19 pm
Is there anything special about oatmeal or oatbran (e.g, beta glucan) that actually reduces the liver’s ability to synthesis cholesterol. is are these foods only beneficial for lowering cholesterol because they have lots of fiber?
Mar 22, 2007 at 5:37 pm
Jakob, hello. Thanks for your great questions.
While beta-glucan in oats is typically associated with lowering cholesterol, the exact mechanism is unknown. Its thought that beta-glucan decreases cholesterol absorption as opposed to decreasing synthesis. Otherwise, oats provide several benefits, in addition to cholesterol reduction. They provide a feeling of fullness, protein, essential fatty acids, and many vitamins and minerals needed for health. People who regularly eat oats may have a reduced risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer. Last, studies show that beta-glucan may slow the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine; therefore, slowing the absorption of glucose. This can help diabetics manage their blood sugar.