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    Archive for the ‘walnuts’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

    goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

    Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

    YIELDS: One 8-slice pie

    INGREDIENTS:

    For crust:

    3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    (NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

    For filling:

    1.5 cups blueberries
    1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
    1 medium banana, sliced
    2 Tablespoons cup raisins
    1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

    Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

    Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

    Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

    While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

    Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

    Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

    Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

    Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

    NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

    245 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

    Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc

    NOTES:

    1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

    2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

    3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

    4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Peanuts vs. Tree Nuts

    peanuts-peeledA peanut butter sandwich is as American as apple pie.

    What are your thoughts on peanut butter, though?

    I’ve been hearing that peanuts, which I know are actually legumes, aren’t as healthy as tree nuts.

    Should I be making my sandwiches with almond butter instead?

    — Fred (Last name withheld)
    Brooklyn, NY

    I don’t have any issues with peanuts or peanut butter.

    When it comes to nuts (and, yes, for the sake of this post we’ll treat peanuts as such), my recommendation is to always have one serving of some nut every day.

    One serving is made up of 13 walnuts halves.  In the case of almonds, that’s 23 individual pieces.  If you’re talking pistachios, you’re looking at 49 kernels!

    The issue with nuts is that you could label any one as “better” or “worse” than the next, depending on what criteria you use.

    Consider these lists I compiled:

    FIBER CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios: 3 grams
    • Brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts: 2 grams
    • Cashews: 1 gram

    PROTEIN CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Peanuts: 7 grams
    • Almonds, pistachios: 6 grams
    • Cashews: 5 grams
    • Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts: 4 grams
    • Pecans: 3 grams

    MONOUNSATURATED (heart-healthy!) FAT (per ounce)

    • Hazelnuts: 12.9 grams
    • Pecans: 11.5 grams
    • Almonds: 8.7 grams
    • Brazil nuts, peanuts: 6.9 grams
    • Cashews: 6.7 grams
    • Pistachios: 6.6 grams

    OMEGA 3: OMEGA 6 RATIO (per ounce)

    • Walnuts: 1:4
    • Pecans: 1:20
    • Pistachios: 1:51
    • Hazelnuts: 1:89
    • Cashews: 1:125
    • Brazil nuts: 1:1,139
    • Almonds: 1:2,181
    • Peanuts: 1:5,491

    All of them, meanwhile, are good sources of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese.  Calorie amounts range from 155 (cashews) to 195 (pecans).

    I always recommend varying your nut intake since each variety contains unique phytonutrients and antioxidants that have been linked to an array of health benefits.

    Peanuts, for example, are a wonderful source of resveratrol (the same antioxidant in red wine and grape skins), while pecans contain high amounts of beta-sisterol, a cholesterol-lowering phytonutrient.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Nuts & Cholesterol

    nuts1240705690Are there any nuts that help lower cholesterol, or are they all bad?

    They are high in fat, right?

    — Greg (Last name withheld)
    Los Angeles, CA

    When it comes to lowering cholesterol with food, there are three particular nutrients to keep in mind:

    • Soluble fiber
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Monounsaturated fats

    The above nutrients are ones you want to consume more of.  Ideally, you don’t want to simply add them to what you are already eating, but rather eat them in place of less-healthy foods (i.e.: refined carbohydrates, foods made with corn and cottonseed oil, etc.).

    In regards to your question: nuts are an absolutely wonderful food that I encourage everyone to have a serving of every single day.

    Almonds and Brazil nuts are the nuts with highest amounts of soluble fiber per ounce.  Walnuts, meanwhile, have more omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of Alpha-Linolenic Acid) than any other nut.  The monounsaturated fat category is dominated by peanuts.

    This is not to say other nuts are inferior; others have certain phytonutrients and compounds that have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.

    While we’re discussing these three nutrients, check out this list of best sources (which includes some foods not mentioned above):

    • Soluble fiber: barley, figs, kidney beans, oat bran, oatmeal, pears, psyllium husk
    • Omega-3 fatty acids: chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, halibut, sea vegetables, scallops, walnuts, wild-caught salmon
    • Monounsaturated fatty acids: almonds, avocado, macadamia nuts, peanuts olive oil

    Great news about soluble fiber — every gram of soluble fiber (when consumed in a consistent, daily basis) is linked to a 1 or 2 point reduction in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

    Above all, please undo the “fat is bad” mantra that has pervaded the American dietary landscape for the past two decades.  Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats not only lower total and LDL cholesterol, they also increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Cinnamon-Walnut Whole Grain Muffins

    cinnamonThis past weekend I craved muffins to go along with my recently-purchased hazelnut-roasted coffee.

    Instead of treking down to a local bakery for a gigantic 500-calorie bomb, I decided to make my own.

    Apart from pairing up perfectly with a hot cup of coffee on a brisk autumn day, these muffins are 100% whole grain, vegan, and chock full of omega-3 fatty acids.

    See how you like them!

    YIELDS: 18 mini muffins

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat white flour)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
    1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
    4 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
    1 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
    (NOTE: You could omit the coconut oil and instead add an additional tablespoon of canola oil)
    1/4 cup agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup water

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place all dry ingredients (from whole wheat flour to cinnamon) in one bowl.

    In another bowl, mix together all wet ingredients (from applesauce to water).

    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients bowl.

    Mix together lightly, making sure not to overmix.

    Scoop mixed batter into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit

    OPTIONAL (but recommended): Once out of the oven, sprinkle additional cinnamon on top of muffins.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for 2 mini muffins, with coconut oil):

    184 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat (if using only canola oil: 0.5 grams saturated fat)
    320 milligrams sodium
    4.4 grams fiber
    7.2 grams added sugar
    4.5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Manganese, selenium

    Good Source of: Alpha Linolenic Omega-3 Fatty Acids, copper, magnesium, phosphorus

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    You Ask, I Answer: Side Effects from Fish Oil Capsules?

    sealogix_oil2Are you aware of any side effects resulting from ingesting fish oil capsules?

    Specifically, a relative of mine is very sensitive to many compounds (a number of prescription drugs in particular). Her (highly regarded) general practitioner advised her to start fish oil supplementation, possibly in connection with high cholesterol.

    Since taking the supplements, she has experienced itchiness, has developed some sores (similar to psoriasis) and says that she has experienced cuts more frequently with higher than normal bleeding from the cuts.

    Have there been any studies conducted that point to such possible side effects?

    — Bill M.
    Via the blog

    This is actually a two-part question.

    Before I go any further though, let me make something very clear.  Clearly, your relative’s body is sending her a message — “these supplements do not agree with me.”  She needs to listen to that above everything else.

    Side effects to fish oil supplementation have indeed been reported and are mentioned in the literature.

    The itchiness and sores could very well be the result of a fish oil allergy or, if she is taking these supplements in capsule form, possibly an allergy to an ingredient in the capsule shell.

    If it is the latter, than switching to a liquid supplement would resolve that issue.

    What worries me most, however, is the excessive bleeding.

    Although omega-3 fatty acids have anti-clotting, blood thinning properties (which are a good thing!), I suspect such a dramatic effect may be the result of the fish oil working in conjunction with something else.

    Does she take a daily aspirin?  Similarly, is she currently on Coumadin, blood pressure medications, or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

    If the answer to any of those is ‘yes’, she needs to tell her general practitioner immediately and stop taking fish oil supplements.

    In the meantime, while this gets sorted out, she can take the following nutrition-related steps to help lower her cholesterol:

    • Increase her intake of soluble fibers (oatmeal, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables)
    • Make an effort to make most of her fats monounsaturated (by consuming avocado, olive oil, peanuts, and sesame seeds)
    • In the event that she is allergic to fish oil, consume omega-3 fatty acids from other sources (ground flaxseed, walnuts)

    Even if she eventually gets the green light to resume fish oil supplementation, the above-mentioned steps are absolutely worth keeping in mind.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: “I’ve Got Hummus Coming Out Of My Ears!” Dip

    almonds-spoonAs much as I love hummus, there are times when my tastebuds beg for a change.

    This delicious — and super easy — dip is a top-notch, phytonutrient-rich alternative.

    YIELDS: 2 cups (8 servings)

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup raw almonds
    1/2 cup raw walnuts
    1/4 cup onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves
    1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
    1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    6 Tablespoons water

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse for 20 – 30 seconds.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per 4-tablespoon serving):

    153 calories
    5.5 grams heart-healthy monounsaturated fat
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    3 grams fiber
    5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good Source of: Copper, magnesium, riboflavin

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Vegan Spinach-Walnut Pesto

    Here is a different spin on traditional pesto I often whip up at home.

    It omits cheese (you’re welcome, vegan and lactose intolerant readers), replaces pinenuts with walnuts for an Omega-3 boost, and adds some spinach for extra nutrition.

    YIELDS: 6 servings

    INGREDIENTS

    3 garlic cloves
    1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
    1/2 cup spinach leaves
    1/3 cup raw walnuts
    1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt (preferably coarse sea salt)
    Pepper, to taste
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Place whole garlic cloves in food processor. Pulse until diced.
    2. Place rest of ingredients (except water) in food processor.
    3. Pulse; add water and pulse again.

    IMPORTANT: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer, rather than the refrigerator.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving)

    220 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    14 grams monounsaturated (heart healthy) fat
    190 milligrams sodium
    4.5 grams fiber
    7 grams protein
    350 milligrams ALA Omega-3 fatty acids

    Excellent Source of: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B vitamins

    Good Source of: Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber

    Although you can obviously drizzle this over some pasta (preferrably whole wheat; be sure to include roasted red peppers for a wonderful complementary taste), I also recommend using it as a topping for seitan, tofu, or grilled chicken.

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    Summer Eatin’

    The latest video posted on the Small Bites YouTube channel offers tips and advice for a healthy and nutritious summer.

    Is mayo a microbiological bad guy? What’s a tasty and refreshing replacement for ice cream? Are you preparing your salad in such a way to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients?

    Find out more in this short video, where I also introduce you to a key player of the Small Bites team!

    Share

    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Ultimate Yogurt Bowl

    I came up with this concoction last year and it soon became one of my favorite breakfasts.

    Depending on your caloric requirements, you may opt to have it as a weekend brunch item or have it as your weekday breakfast with a few modifications (detailed at the end of the post).

    Either way, it’s a delicious source of calcium, Omega-3 Alpha Linolenic Fatty Acids, heart-healthy fats, and fiber (including a spectacular 3 grams of the soluble, cholesterol-lowering variety).

    6 oz. low-fat plain dairy or soy yogurt (I love Greek yogurt’s taste and texture)
    1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
    1 medium banana, sliced

    1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

    1/4 cup oat bran
    3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

    Get all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them together. Yum!

    NUTRITION FACTS

    646 calories
    23 grams fat
    3 grams saturated fat
    16.6 grams fiber
    40 grams protein
    300 milligrams calcium (30% of the Daily Value)

    Note: If you are preparing this with “regular” (non-Greek) yogurt, protein adds up to 29 grams and calcium totals 700 milligrams!

    If you need to lower the calories, try one — or more — of the following options:

    Omit the banana and save 105 calories (fiber total decreases to a still excellent 13.1 grams)
    Omit the walnuts and save 131 calories (the ground flaxseeds still deliver Omega-3 fatty acids, and you only lose 1.3 grams of fiber)
    Lower the ground flaxseed to 1.5 tablespoons and save 55 calories (the end result will contain 13 grams of fiber).

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    In The News: Revising the Food Pyramid

    The folks over at the Harvard School of Public Health — led by Walter Willett — don’t think the traditional USDA food pyramid (officially known as MyPyramid) doles out the best advice.

    So, they proactively designed their own version — The Healthy Eating Pyramid.

    You can see a nicely drawn PDF version by clicking on the link above.

    I prefer this version over the USDA’s, but have a few critiques.

    Although I like the inclusion of “daily exercise and weight control” at the base, I would prefer that section be titled “daily exercise and portion control.”

    Additionally, the “healthy fats/oils” category should place more of an emphasis on fats higher in Omega-3 (i.e: olive oil, walnuts, flaxseed) and less on ones offering very high Omega-6 levels (ie: soy and corn).

    As I have discussed in the past, an improper Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio has its share of health implications.

    Lastly, I strongly disagree with the inclusion of potatoes in the “eat sparingly” pyramid tip (accompanied by red meat, refined grains, sugary snacks, and salt).

    It is one thing to eat potatoes in their nutritionally void skinless, deep fried version.

    However, a baked potato, eaten with its skin, is a great source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium.

    Clearly, current obesity and diabetes rates can not be blamed on the ingestion of healthily prepared potatoes.

    Your thoughts?

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vegan Child’s Nutrition

    I have a picky eater at home, an 8-year-old I adopted last year from another country.

    She is still very suspicious of new foods, and I have taken to sneaking supplements into her diet wherever I can.

    She’s vegan and I’m vegetarian; I open up iron supplement capsules and sprinkle small amounts of iron into her food; same with B-complex capsules and multi-vitamin caps.

    She gets plenty of protein and fiber, since she’s happy to eat tempeh, beans, quinoa, peanut butter and lots of vegetables and fruits.

    I’m mostly concerned with her iron, B-complex, calcium and Omega-3 intake.

    The last two I can handle with flax oil, wakame powder and various calcium supplements.

    Actually, I still think she could be getting more calcium if she’d drink milk, but she won’t.

    — Jennifer Armstrong
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Although I understand your concerns regarding your child’s nutrition, I believe she is doing just fine based on the eating patterns you describe above.

    First of all, I am impressed that an 8 year old appreciates the taste of quinoa and tempeh – nutritious foods that many adults shun, or downright don’t even know about.

    Most people with children your age are concerned about the increasing consumption of Doritos, Oreos, and soda!

    Alright, let’s discuss the specific nutrients you inquired about.

    As far as iron is concerned, there is no absolutely need to provide capsules.

    An omnivorous 8 year old should get 10 milligrams of iron a day; since your daughter is vegan – and therefore consuming solely non-heme sources – I would place her requirement at 15 milligrams.

    Note that between the ages of 9 and 12, this requirement will lessen to approximately 12 milligrams.

    Considering the iron amounts in these vegan foods, you’ll see why iron pills are basically a waste of money:

    Quinoa (1 cup): 6.2 milligrams
    Soybeans (1/2 cup): 4 milligrams
    Lentils (1/2 cup): 3.2 milligrams
    Kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 2.5 milligrams

    Don’t forget enriched and fortified grains.

    Half a cup of fortified oatmeal provides 6.5 milligrams of iron, and a cup of enriched cereal (say, Cheerios) provides 9 milligrams!<

    In terms of calcium, she currently needs 800 milligrams a day, but this will jump to 1,300 from age 9 to 18.

    Again, though, no need for supplementation.

    It does take more planning than an omnivorous diet, but it can be done.

    Check out these values:

    Calcium-fortified orange juice (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soy yogurt (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Soymilk (1 cup): 300 milligrams
    Tofu (4 oz.): 260 milligrams
    Collard greens (1/2 cup): 175 mg
    Almonds (1 oz): 80 mg

    Although Vitamin B12 is often cited as an issue in vegan diets, fortification has made this former problem a lot easier to manage.

    Many popular cereals are fortified with vitamin B12.

    Let’s go back to the Cheerios example — 1 cup provides a third of a day’s needs.

    A cup of some (fortified) soymilks, meanwhile, contains 40 percent of a day’s worth of B12!

    Wakame – a kelp – is also a great source. It’s one of the few seaweeds that contains human-active B12 (as opposed to the analog type, which is useless in our bodies).

    In the event that B12 needs can not be met through food, I do recommend supplementation. Make sure it is specifically a B12 supplement and not a multivitamin containing B12 (vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron can impede absorption).

    Omega-3 fatty acids are the most difficult to get from a vegan diet, since walnuts and flaxseeds only contain alpha linoleic acid (they do not contribute EPA and DHA, the two essential fatty acids found in fish).

    However, Omega-3 supplements made from algae are vegan and contain EPA and DHA!

    While we’re on the topic of supplementation, I think everyone — carnivore, vegan, and everywhere in between — should supplement their diet with vitamin D.

    One last thing – don’t get discouraged by your daughter’s adverse reactions to new foods.

    Research has determined that it takes approximately eight to ten tries for a new food to be accepted by a young child.

    The key is slow integration.

    For instance, let’s say your daughter enjoys baby carrots but the first time she tried celery she wasn’t too keen on it.

    Rather than outright swap carrots for celery pieces overnight, throw in four or five chopped bits of celery next time you pack some baby carrots in her lunch box.

    This subtle addition of a new flavor will be less intimidating to her and less of a shock to her palate.

    Do this another five or six times. The results might surprise you!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Omega-3 Fats

    Why is fish always credited as a good source of Omega 3 fats when walnuts and flaxseed have plenty also?

    — Diane Grant
    Tucson, AZ

    Although we often refer to “Omega 3 fats” as one general category, there are three different types of Omega-3 fatty acids: Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), EicosoPentaenoic Acid (EPA), and DocosaHexaenoic Acid (DHA).

    ALA is found exclusively in vegetable sources, including walnuts and flaxseeds.

    You might have heard some people talk about the Omega-3’s in dark, leafy green vegetables.

    However, they are so low in fat to begin with that, although nutritious in many ways, I don’t consider them to be a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

    EPA and DHA are found in large quantities in cold water fish. Grass-fed beef will contain a little, as well.

    One concern with getting Omega-3’s solely from vegetable sources is that some people are unable to convert ALA to EPA and DHA.

    Even if you are able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, 10 grams of ALA are needed to make 600 milligrams of EPA and 400 of DHA.

    Considering that current recommendations call for 1 gram of EPA and another of DHA, that’s a lot of ALA to consume — and convert!

    And while ALA is indeed good for us, there is, as always, too much of a good thing. Several recent studies have linked very high intakes of ALA among men with a higher risk of prostate cancer.

    It’s also important to realize that as good for us as Omega 3 fats are, they do not work alone. Vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium are involved in the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA.

    If you are not consuming enough of those nutrients, your conversion will happen at an even slower rate.

    Walnuts and flaxseed are nutritious and have their share of health benefits. However, for optimal Omega-3 fat consumption, it is highly recommended to include sources of EPA and DHA in your diet.

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