Plant Sources Such as Walnuts And Flaxseed Oil: an Alternative to Fish for Bone Strength

Plant Sources Such as Walnuts And Flaxseed Oil: an Alternative to Fish for Bone

Fish is generally low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a good overall substitute for poultry and meat. It's also a good source of protein and several vitamins and minerals.Fish is consumed as food all over the world; with other seafoods, it provides the world's prime source of high-quality protein: 14-16% of the animal protein consumed world-wide; over 1 billion people rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein.


Fish, especially saltwater fish, is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are heart-friendly, and a regular diet of fish is highly recommended. This is supposed to be one of the major causes of reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases in Eskimos. It has been suggested that the longer lifespan of Japanese and Nordic populations may be partially due to their higher consumption of fish and seafood. The Mediterranean diet is likewise based on a rich intake of fish.

Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant/nut oils. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while some nuts (English walnuts) and vegetable oils (canola, soybean, flaxseed/linseed, olive) contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Seafood is any sea animal or seaweed that is served as food or is suitable for eating. This usually includes seawater animals, such as fish and shellfish (including mollusks and crustaceans). By extension, in North America although not generally in the United Kingdom, the term seafood is also applied to similar animals from fresh water and all edible aquatic animals are collectively referred to as seafood.

Reason for choosing fish & seafood:

There is evidence from multiple large-scale population (epidemiologic) studies and randomized controlled trials that intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease, slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries"), and lowers blood pressure slightly.

In countries with a high fracture incidence, a minimum of 400--500 mg of calcium intake is required to prevent osteoporosis. When consumption of dairy products is limited, other sources of calcium include fish with edible bones, tortillas processed with lime, green vegetables high in calcium (e.g.broccoli, kale), legumes and by-products of legumes (e.g. tofu).

The interaction between calcium intake and physical activity, sun exposure,and intake of other dietary components (e.g. vitamin D, vitamin K,sodium, protein) and protective phytonutrients (e.g. soy compounds),needs to be considered before recommending increased calcium intake in countries with low fracture incidence in order to be in line with recommendations for industrialized countries.

Two types of fatty acids that are essential for human health are omega-3 and omega-6. Studies suggest that decreasing the ratio of omega-6 (in vegetable oils) to omega-3 fatty acids (in fatty fish) is important to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease, inflammatory conditions, and depression.

Most people consume too many omega-6 fatty acids and consume too little omega-3 fatty acids. To reduce your risk of chronic disease, reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Diets high in alpha-linolenic acid may promote strong bones, the results of a small study suggest, and contrary to what many people believe, you don't need to eat fish or take fish oil tablets to raise levels of this omega-3 fatty acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, or PUFA. Most guidelines recommend consuming diets high in PUFAs and low in saturated fats.

"Our findings suggest that by eating plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid, such as walnuts and flaxseed oil, you can strengthen bones," senior author Dr. Rebecca L. Corwin, from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, told Reuters Health. "This is good news for people who don't like fish."

The new findings, which appear in the Nutrition Journal, are based on a study of 23 subjects who consumed one of three diets, provided by the researchers, over 6-week periods. The diets included an average American diet, which was low in PUFAs; a diet high in alpha-linolenic acid; and a diet high in linoleic acid, a PUFA of the omega-6 group.

Compared with the average American diet, the alpha-linolenic diet, and to a lesser extent the linoleic diet, produced changes suggesting a reduction in bone breakdown, which would be expected to promote stronger bones. However, these diets did not seem to increase the formation of new bone.

"The take-home message is that eating plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids" seems to improve bone health, Corwin noted. "Although linoleic acid also had a beneficial effect, I would be reluctant to recommend increasing the intake, since some research has linked the omega-6 fatty acids with inflammatory effects."

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