How omega-3s help your mood, memory & more: An interview with TV host Julie Daniluk

By Jason Sebeslav

We had the pleasure of welcoming nutritionist, TV host and author Julie Daniluk RHN as our special guest speaker for our 40th anniversary event in 2016. Julie hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her award-winning bestseller, Meals That Heal Inflammation, has helped over 100,000 people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist their body in the healing process. Julie’s latest book, Hot Detox, embraces the ancient wisdom of India and Asia, applying the time-tested intelligence of warming up your body’s core. Julie has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including The Dr. Oz Show, and is a resident expert for The Marilyn Denis Show. Check out amazing recipes and nutrition tips at juliedaniluk.com.

Q: Julie, we’ve heard so much over the past years about the importance of good fats and especially omega-3s. What are the top health benefits of omega-3s in your opinion?

A: One would be improved mood and memory. Research suggests that individuals who consume a lot of fish or have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood are less likely to report signs and symptoms of depression. Omega-3 has also been linked to improved brain health in everyone from two to 102! Researchers have also found that omega-3 improves heart health, while decreasing the risk of cardiac death. Studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglycerides and lower blood pressure. Thirdly, studies show links between omega-3 and reduced inflammation, as well as weight and fat loss (specifically belly fat) in clinical trials.

TV host, author and nutritionist Julie Daniluk.

Q: Inflammation is certainly a hot topic these days – in fact you’ve written books about it! Tell us more about how omega-3s can improve inflammation.

A: A type of omega-3 fatty acid called EPA can help reduce pain and inflammation to the point where many people can reduce their NSAIDS. For example, studies show that it is the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil and algae oil, rich in EPA, that can specifically reduce inflammation in the joints and help to regulate the immune system. This is incredibly important for anyone who may be experiencing pain caused by an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to use omega-3 for 12 weeks to really see pain reduction.

Q: What are some of the best food sources of omega-3?

A: Omega-3s are abundant in algae and fatty fish (the best is small fish like herring, sardines, anchovies) and to a lesser degree leafy green vegetables, seeds (especially chia, flax, kiwi, hemp, perilla and sacha inchi), seaweeds and walnuts.

Q: So do vegetarians or vegans have a harder time getting adequate levels for optimum health?

A: Vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seeds and oil, walnuts, chia and hemp seeds are great, but it’s easier for the body to utilize the omega 3s from fish sources. Plant sources need to undergo an enzymatic conversion in the body and if you’re low in certain nutrients, the conversion may not happen, increasing your risk for inflammatory conditions.

Q: For those who want to add an omega-3 supplement to the mix, what should they be looking for in terms of quality products?

A: My personal favourite is NutraSea. They have a passion for the environment and they only use sustainable seafood sources. I really appreciate that they process their oil in such a way that ensures it’s free of the toxins people are worried about with fish. They’ve also just introduced a new vegan-friendly omega-3 product called NutraVege that transforms farmed microalgae into a potent source of balanced EPA and DHA that was never possible before!

Q: Some people fear that consuming extra fats or oils will make them gain weight. What’s your response to this concern?

It turns out that healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from fish and algae and medium-train triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut actually help people lose weight! For example, a three-week clinical trial had women consume 2.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids EPA to DHA daily, combined with both a healthy diet and exercise experienced. The women who consumed the fish oil averaged a 3.3-pound greater weight loss than women consuming a placebo and the same diet and exercise plan.

Q: Another common concern is that fish oils may contain mercury and other toxins. How can someone be sure a fish oil supplement is clean and safe?

A: NutraSea uses a third party quality assurance program called Pure Check, which tests every lot of fish oil for quality, safety purity and label claims. These test results are posted online for you to see, providing a unique level of transparency assuring you that your product is free of toxins.

Q: So many people assume fish oils must taste bad, but in fact they’ve come a long way since the cod liver oil days. What’s your personal favourite flavour choice?

A: I love the Grapefruit Tangerine flavour and the High Potency Lemon because you get all the benefits without any hint of fish flavour. They are so pleasant that you can add them direct to smoothies and salad dressings and they add a lovely citrus flavour to the mix!

Q: Is there anyone who shouldn’t take omega-3s? What about children?

A: There was a concern that fish oil may thin the blood too much for patients taking blood thinners. But it turns out fish oil reduces platelets sticking together but does not increase the risk of bleeding, making it a very safe supplement for heart patients. Children have a higher need for omega-3 because of their developing brains. Saying that, Health Canada does not suggest the use of supplemental omega-3 under the age of one because babies receive rich amounts in breast milk. If your child is using formula, check with your health care professional to see if NutraSea Kids is a good addition.

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