Disclosure: I received financial compensation from Burnbrae Farms to talk about the omega-3’s and health. While the information conveyed may support clients’ objectives, the opinions expressed are my own and based on current scientific evidence. I do not engage in business with companies whose products or services do not match my personal and professional beliefs.
Omega-3’s and Gut Health – Are You Getting Enough?
We all know fibre is a key factor in gut health. But what about the role fat plays? Today I’ve partnered with Burnbrae Farms to discuss how omega-3 fats are a crucial part of taking care of your digestive system and your overall health.
What are Omega-3’s?
Simply put, omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat that have anti-inflammatory actions in the body. The 3 most widely researched types of omega-3 fats we get in our diet are called:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
ALA is by far the most common source of omega-3 in our diet, and is found in our plant-based foods such as flax seed, walnuts & soybeans. In contrast, EPA & DHA are found in fish, seaweed, and omega-3 eggs like Burnbrae Farms Naturegg Omega 3 eggs. While the body can convert a small amount of ALA to EPA and DHA, it is often not enough – requiring us to get EPA and DHA from food sources.
The problem? Close to 40% of Canadians do not get the recommended amount of DHA and EPA omega-3 fats. Even as a dietitian, I have to be very purposeful in hitting my DHA and EPA targets of approximately 500 mg a day.
If you live in a land-locked city fresh fish may be hard to get access to. This is where omega-3 eggs come in SO handy. They’re the easiest and tastiest way to get your omega-3’s every day.
How do omega-3 fats affect my health?
Omega-3 fats from food sources are:
- Cardioprotective, reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease
- Protective from cognitive decline or dementia
- Anti-inflammatory – playing a key role in our immune system & function
- Crucial in cell formation, pregnancy, and infant development
- And may help protect against pro-inflammatory and chronic diseases, like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
Omega-3 fats influence our health, in part by affecting the gut microbiota. While the research into how omega-3’s affect our gut microbiota is relatively new, preliminary studies show omega-3’s having prebiotic-like effects on the gut including:
- increasing abundance of bacteria and diversity of bacteria – important factors in a healthy gut microbiota
- increasing production of short-chain fatty acids, which are compounds that help to reduce inflammation and promote a higher functioning immune system
In animal models, higher circulating levels of omega-3’s appear to reduce gut permeability and inflammation caused by changes in the gut microbiota – making them a potential target to help conditions where gut permeability, or ‘leaky gut’ is seen, like celiac disease, liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Even though current research around inflammation, omega-3 fats, and the gut microbiota is preliminary and predominantly in animal models, it helps us to understand why we see health benefits with adequate intakes of omega-3’s, and just how powerful these fats can be in maintaining our health and preventing disease.
Why not just supplement with omega-3’s?
It’s not surprising, but time and time again we see that when it comes to food, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Throughout the history of nutrition science, we often see that a single nutrient doesn’t often appear to have the same benefits as a food you’d find that nutrient in.
This is true for omega-3 fats, where studies have shown that whole foods appear to have a greater impact on cardiovascular risk, certain types of cancer risk and cognitive decline compared to supplements alone.
Not only that, but the preliminary research around omega-3 supplementation and the gut microbiota shows that whole foods containing omega-3’s have more impact on the gut microbiota than supplements alone. This may, in part, explain why we see differences in research with omega-3 supplementation versus omega-3 intake from whole foods.
Omega-3 eggs are a natural source of omega-3 fats Omega-3 enriched eggs are produced when hens are fed a special diet that’s rich in ground flax seeds or fish oil (or both). Not only that, but eggs also provide a simple and affordable source of protein, folic acid, and lutein – all important nutrients in our diet. People don’t have to change their whole diet to increase their omega-3 consumption; they simply need to change the type of eggs they consume!
If you’re able to hit your omega-3 targets from food – I would absolutely go that route. Not only will you be getting your omega-3 fats in, but other important nutrients as well!
Where can I get Omega-3 fats in food?
As part of my work with patients interested in improving their gut health, I like to focus on getting adequate DHA and EPA omega-3 fats in the diet. One of the simplest and tastiest ways to get omega-3s in the diet is to include two Burnbrae Farms Naturegg Omega 3 eggs, which contain 180 mg DHA+EPA, or two Naturegg Omega Plus eggs, which contain 300 mg DHA +EPA. This helps bridge the omega-3 gap so many Canadians have in their diet. Other sources of DHA and EPA include fish, shellfish, and seaweed (like kelp and wakame).
To help you hit your DHA and EPA omega-3 fat targets, here’s a simple and delicious recipe you can enjoy for breakfast!
Good-for-Your-Gut Veggie Omelettes
- 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil, separated
- 4 mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- 4 Burnbrae Farms Naturegg Omega Plus eggs
- ¼ cup goat cheese
- Green onion, sliced (optional)
- In a small to medium skillet, heat 2 tsp of the oil to medium heat. Add mushrooms, sautéing for 5-7 minutes. After mushrooms start to brown, add in tomatoes and spinach and sauté until spinach is wilted. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Transfer vegetable mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.
- In the same pan, add the remaining oil & heat. Once oil is hot, add the whisked eggs.
- Carefully push the cooked portions of eggs toward the centre of the pan, allowing the uncooked egg to go underneath.
- When eggs have set, spoon the vegetable mixture onto one side of the omelette and top with goat cheese.
- Fold omelette in half, allowing the goat cheese to melt.
- Cut in half and serve, topped with green onions (or salsa if you prefer!)