Saturday, 12 April 2014

Omega 3s for Breakfast!

Omega3- rich porridge with yummy fruit, nuts and seeds and deliciously creamy hemp milk...

It's good to be writing a blog post again after several days off- I think our crazy busy spell may be letting up a little now (hope I didn't speak to soon there) so I'm also hoping to catch up with reading all the fantastic posts you guys have written while I've been otherwise occupied :)
We all need to get our balance of omega oils right. Omegas are essential fatty acids, and our bodies cannot make them so we have to include sources of them in our diet. Why are they essential?- Because without them our bodies would not be able to manufacture the hormones needed to regulate immune functions, blood clotting, cell growth and a host of other vital stuff. In short, omegas are both necessary for our bodies to function and for helping prevent disease (including cancer). There are three types of omega oils: 3s, 6s and 9s. Omega 9 is non essential but good because it has oleic acid, which may help reduce blood pressure (find it in olives, nuts and seeds). Without proper planning, a vegetarian diet may be lacking in Omega 3 fatty acids. Luckily, it is pretty easy to meet Omega 3 recommendations once you know the sources. Foods such as oils, nuts and seeds are very high in Omega 3. However, the problem with a lot of these foods (like walnuts and sesame) is that they are also high in the other type of essential fatty acid: Omega 6. Omega 6 oils are more readily found, but they need to be kept in balance with the omega3s for your health to benefit as too many 6s inhibit the conversion of the 3s into fatty acids. Luckily, hemp seeds contain omega 3s, 6s and 9s in perfect balance. Some of the best plant sources for omega 3s are: linseeds (aka flax), chia seeds, hemp seeds, mustard oil (if you need to cut down on omega 6s, replace olive oil with this), leafy greens, blueberries and Winter squashes.I was shocked to find this article, which claims that scientific studies have shown that people with plant-based diets could be more at risk of cardiovascular disease than they thought:
 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110202082307.htm While I don't endorse the opinion that all veggies/ vegans are at risk- after all, most of us have a lot of nutritional knowhow and eat well- it is true that attention is needed to getting enough omega 3s (and vitamin B12 too) in balance with the omega 6s to ensure a properly-functioning cardiovascular system. In other words, we need to get our good oils, guys. Don't be tempted to eat junk food (yes, you can easily get vegan junk food!) all the time- it's better to spend those calories on nourishing food that's going to do you good. A lot of people eschew seeds and nuts because they are calorie-dense, but they are actually vital in a plant based diet because of nutrients like omega oils, protein and minerals. (If you're concerned about calories, then up your excercise: we think it's better to consume a few more calories eating nutrient-dense foods than to limit your food intake and miss out on vital nutrients.) One way I like to get them into my diet is by keeping  four seed sprinkle in the fridge and adding it to cereals, shakes, smoothies, desserts etc. My husband likes to grind seeds and add them to soup (they give a wonderfully creamy texture) and we recently experimented by adding a couple of tabs of ground linseeds to chapatti dough (see a future post) with delicious results. We are also currently playing around with flapjack recipes which contain no added oil, just ground seeds (we'll let you know more about that one when we've done some more experiments). My husband dreamed up this delicious way of adding omega 3 to our porridge the other day:

You need:
oats
walnuts
pumpkin seeds
dates
dried apricots
whole hemp seeds
water

  • Make a porridge to your preferred consistency with some water, the oats and all the other ingredients apart from the hemp seeds.
  • Make a creamy hemp milk by grinding the hemp seeds to a powder and blend with water. Use a sedds:water ratio of 1:4.
  • Stir the hemp milk into the porridge, warm it gently and enjoy a healthy start to your day!
Fun Fact: Eating seeds is not a modern trend; the 8th-century European King Charlemagne was so enthusiastic about the health benefits of linseeds that he passed a law making all his subjects eat some every day!
                        What's your favourite way of adding nuts and seeds to your diet?








4 comments:

  1. I love nuts and seeds in simple date balls to snack on. Also fun to make with my little nephew. :)

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  2. Hello! I wonder if you could give me a few pointers please?
    I'm trying to maintain a healthy diet on an extremely tight budget right now. Firstly, I recently swapped my usual golden linseeds for brown in my homemade muesli. What do you think? Is there a significant difference in the quality of the nutrition from these? Also, having seen your four seed sprinkle now, would I benefit from grinding them?
    And finally, I'd like try chia seeds seeing as they're all over the internet! You're in the UK, aren't you? Where do you get them (and hempseeds) from? Are they a health food shop special (therefore daftly expensive) or can you get them from supermarkets or ethnic shops. I don't know what there origin is, do you?
    Thanks in advance
    Z xx

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    Replies
    1. Hi Zola, Thanks for your comment. We are also on quite a tight budget, and I'd be only too happy to share some tips. Brown linseeds do tend to be cheaper (you can get them on Asian groceries too) Apparently the brown seeds are very similar to the golden, especially in terms of the omega 3s they contain. I do know, however, that they pass through your digestive system with most of the nutrients unabsorbed unless you grind them, so a seed/spice/coffee grinder is a good investment and needn't cost much. Our strategy for affording the good stuff is to order all our goods like yeast flakes, brown rice, flour, beans, pasta, nuts and seeds etc. from Suma Wholefoods, who deliver all over the UK- they have a website if you want to know more. We get them at wholesale prices and 2 or 3 orders a year is great for us as we are quite a large family of big eaters! If you don't have a big enough household to justify this, you could always get together with friends and order that way. We could never afford chia seeds, hemp etc. if we got it all from the health food shops or supermarkets. Chia seeds are from South America and they are such an amazing superfood they are well worth getting if you can. We wrote about them on our blog last year as an "Ingredient of the Month". Hope this helps- and do share with us any economical tips you have :)

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    2. Thanks :-D
      I'll investigate coffee/spice grinders xx

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