Hello everybody! This is Christine, and while Matt was busy running his 50-miler, I attended an event in Philadelphia hosted by New Harvest to educate health and food bloggers about their new Vegetarian Fatty Acid Supplement. New Harvest took care of the expenses for my trip, but my opinions are my own. I also double-checked the facts they provided in their presentation before passing any information on to you.
New Harvest Vegetarian Fatty Acid Supplement is a yeast-derived form of the long chain fatty acid EPA. By now you probably have figured out that essential fatty acids are, well, essential. But if you’re like me, the knowledge ends at the vague idea of omega-3’s being “good” and that’s about it.
Not Just Heart-Hype
Fatty acids are strongly associated with heart health; the higher the intake, the lower the number of coronary events. In fact, a low omega-3 index in cells is now being considered a risk factor itself for cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3’s are associated with general life longevity too, but EPAs are the only omega-3 fatty acid that have been proven helpful to the heart. DHA is great for brain health, but can actually raise bad cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends 500 mg of omega-3’s per day. If you are counting on flaxseed and chia to provide you with the recommended amount of omega-3’s, you may be in for a surprise.
Does your vegetarian diet need an omega-3 supplement?
Plant sources contain the short chain fatty acid ALA, which the body can turn into EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, only a sorry rate of 5-15% actually converts into the useful long chain kind. Keep that in mind before splurging on ALA omega-3 fortified Doritos.
But where did those daily recommended amounts come from anyway? Some say that the ratio of omega-6’s to omega-3’s is just as important as the absolute amount; therefore lowering the intake of omega-6’s could suffice in place of an omega-3 supplement. Maybe this could work for the average American who consumes omega-6’s and omega-3’s in a 10:1 ratio when the ideal is 4:1, but there may not be enough to cut from a healthy vegetarian diet.
Why not just bite the bullet and take a fish oil pill?
I know more than a few vegans who in the past have been instructed by their doctors to take a fish oil supplement. Even if you aren’t philosophically opposed to eating fish or deterred by the dreaded “fishy burp,” it’s important to realize that making fish oil supplements is big business.
With demand so high, environmental practices can take a backseat and leave oceans over-harvested and ecosystems in shambles. The New Harvest supplement is made from yeast so it is sustainable, unlike those two servings of fatty fish per week for the rest of the population.
Environmental Give and Take
The New Harvest EPA oil is currently extracted from the yeast by a chemical solvent called hexane, but I am told that they are changing the process by next year. Hexane is a cheap and efficient way of extracting oils, but is also classified as a hazardous air pollutant. I am looking forward to hearing how they change the process since hexane is notorious for leaking into the atmosphere. Unless you exclusively buy organic expeller-pressed oils, you probably already have many hexane-extracted oils in your kitchen.
Prick it to Prove it!
So where does that leave me and my daily flax and berry smoothie? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep you updated. New Harvest provided me with a prick test to analyze my omega-3 index both before and after taking their supplement for 6 weeks. I’m pretty excited to get started; it think it says a lot that a company is willing to hand a blogger something so quantifiable to back up their product. So here I am being a big baby with the first round of the test. At the end of six weeks we can compare how the supplement affected my omega-3 index.
New Harvest Giveaway!
New Harvest gave me an extra bottle of their Vegetarian EPA supplement to giveaway to you No Meat Athlete readers! To enter, swing over to the New Harvest site and take the quick Omega-3 IQ test. Then just leave me a comment about how you did, good or bad! I’ll announce the winner next Friday. (18 and over, in the U.S. please.)
If you can’t wait til then, I have a secret coupon too! It’s good for $2.00 off New Harvest at GNC stores. Sweet! I’m going to use it myself to keep my supply going for this 6 week test.
A Food-Filled Weekend in Philly
I had such a fun time in Philadelphia for the weekend! I want to express my sincere appreciation to New Harvest for all the wonderful food and events. From hand-making vegetarian ravioli to running the “Rocky” stairs, it was very relaxed event; I felt they were very honest with the facts about their products and never trying to push a sale.
I feel so lucky to have been introduced to some very talented food bloggers. It was super fun to be updating the group about Matt’s 50-mile progress and cheer him on together from afar. I got to spend the weekend with Jenna from Eat Live Run, Tina from Carrots n’ Cake, Tanya from I Ate a Pie, Maridel from Vital Juice, Anne from fANNEtastic food, Monica from Run Eat Repeat, Anne-Marie from This Mama Cooks, and Jenna from Eat Right Around Chicago.
Here are a few pics from my trip, but be sure to check out these ladies’ blogs for some truly gorgeous food photography.
I was so enthralled with the delicious food I had on my trip that I have been figuring out some vegan versions to share with you! See you next week: Come for the giveaway winners, stay for the vegan ice cream!