This summer, the journal Progress in Lipid Research analyzed the results of 298 diet studies from countries all over the world and released a fascinating color-coded world map. The map illustrates the frequency of omega-3 consumption, rating areas from adequate to very low. How does your hometown measure up? Well, unless you live in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Nigeria, Japan, Papa New Guinea, or parts of coastal Russia, probably not very well.[i]
In fact, if you live anywhere in the continental U.S., most of Canada, or many other places in the world (including populous nations like Brazil, India, and Iran), your omega-3 consumption is likely to be very low. And that matters, because sufficient omega-3 intake is linked to all sorts of health benefits, including cardiovascular and cognitive health.*
There’s a reason most of the areas where omega-3 consumption is adequate are northern and coastal: the most concentrated food sources of omega-3s are cold-water fatty fish. However, countries like England and Ireland, where processed foods are frequently consumed, often eat low levels of omega-3, even though they are surrounded by cold bodies of water like the North Atlantic.
According to Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Vice President of DSM, the company that funded the research, “The optimal [blood] level can be reached by eating fatty fish rich in omega-3, like salmon or cod, several times a week. As modern eating habits mean that many people do not follow this diet, food supplements and fortified foods are the most convenient and cost effective way to ensure that the optimal level is achieved.”
If you’d like to see a copy of the map, check it out here:
Meanwhile, unless you’re planning to move to Alaska, you might also want to pick up a bottle of omega-3 supplements. Both fish and flaxseed oil will do the trick, as they each naturally contain omega-3 fatty acids.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Stark KD, et al. Progress in Lipids Research. 2016 Jul. 63;132-52.