ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is an essential fatty acid that your body cannot make on its own. That means that you must include it in your diet. You can find it in a wide variety of foods, with particularly good sources being walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, and soybeans. This omega-3 fatty acid is similar to the ones found in fish oil (EPA and DHA) and a special one found in green-lipped mussel oil, ETA. ALA is essential because your body can convert it into these other fatty acids, which provide a whole host of health benefits and relief from a range of symptoms, such as inflammation and pain.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA, DHA, and ETA, are known to help reduce inflammation and may even reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease such as arthritis, asthma, and heart disease, or they may help reduce the symptoms of any existing chronic diseases such as these that you already have. They are also important for brain development and health as well as overall growth and development.
Note: Don’t confuse alpha-linolenic acid with alpha-lipoic acid. The latter, which is also sometimes abbreviated as “ALA,” is an antioxidant that helps your body convert glucose into energy.
What You Should Know About Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA)
Plant-derived ALA is essential to human health because the body cannot synthesize it. Therefore, it’s crucial to include plenty of good sources of this essential fatty acid in your diet. Once consumed, ALA is converted in the body to longer-chain n-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA via the elongase and desaturase enzymes. However, this is an inefficient process, and the conversion rate is very low. Therefore, consuming high amounts of ALA will not significantly increase DHA levels in the body, although it will increase (though only slightly) EPA in red blood cells.
While it may seem confusing, this shows that ALA is beneficial in its own right. Some of the health benefits may be attributed to its conversion to EPA, but as this conversion is so minimal, it stands to reason that ALA provides some of its health benefits independent of its conversion role. This information is also useful for people who don’t eat fish because they are concerned about mercury toxicity, adhere to a vegan diet, or simply don’t like the taste (although taking a supplement such as GLX3 is an easy solution to some of these issues).
What are some foods high in ALA?
The typical diet today contains more omega-6s than omega-3s. Omega-6 fatty acids also matter, but they are much easier to obtain in healthy amounts for a busy person eating an average diet. These fatty acids are found in abundance in foods such as fast food, processed chips, and snack foods, cakes, peanut butter, cured meats, and creamy soups. Omega-3s, on the other hand, require a little more thought and planning to include in your diet regularly.
Good food sources of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid include:
- Flaxseed oil
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Canola and soybean oils
- Navy beans
- Whole-wheat bread
While these foods contain healthy fats and provide important health benefits, some are also high in calories. This presents a bit of a conundrum: you should moderate your intake of high-calorie foods to help maintain a healthy weight, yet you need to make sure that you get all the omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs for optimal health.
A good solution is to include a daily omega-3 supplement in your diet. Because ALA is only one piece of the omega-3 puzzle, you should choose a supplement with all of the main essential fatty acids – ALA, EPA, DHA, and ETA. It’s important to note that ETA is arguably the most important omega-3 fatty acid that you can consume – and it is found only in green-lipped mussels and green-lipped mussel supplements such as GLX3.
The Importance of Green-Lipped Mussel Oil
Until now, fish oil has been the gold standard in omega-3 supplements. However, green-lipped mussel oil is quickly gaining a larger share of the spotlight as people discover its advantages over traditional fish oil. People who take green-lipped mussel oil supplements such as GLX3 often report a significant reduction in joint pain and inflammation and an improvement in mobility. They also report no side-effects. The New Zealand green-lipped mussel is also one of the most eco-friendly kinds of seafood in the world. GLX3 is highly effective precisely because it retains so much of these mussels’ natural nutrient profile. Furthermore, it contains only essential and beneficial ingredients – no fillers of any kind. To ensure that you’re getting all the essential omega-3 fatty acids in your diet that your body needs, make GLX3 a regular part of your diet.