Omega-3 supplements – how to choose the best

I know, it is a minefield out there and there are so many brands of omega-3 supplements on the shelves that it is mind-boggling. So let me make it easy for you to choose only the best, because when it comes to fish oil, only the best will do. This is because, thanks to the human species, the fish in our oceans have become so contaminated and the toxins are mostly harboured in the fatty parts of the fish from which the oil is extracted.  Follow this advice and you can’t go wrong:

  1. Is the DHA and EPA content of the fish oil in one softgel displayed on the label? These essential fatty acids (EFAs) are the active ingredients in fish oil. Ideally the concentration of EPA and DHA combined should be no less than 50% in a 1000mg softgel, eg: 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA means 60% of a 1000mg softgel comprises EFAs.
  2. Watch out for deceptive labeling. Some labels will display the DHA and EPA content in 3 or 4 softgels, not just one, making it look impressive when it is not. So take care when comparing prices.
  3. There should be no added ingredients apart from non-therapeutic amounts of vitamin E to prevent rancidity.
  4. What is the source of the fish oil? Be wary of cheap salmon oil supplements. The oils from farmed salmon, because they are fed vegetable matter, contain some omega-6 so are not pure omega-3. If in doubt look for oils extracted from smaller marine varieties such as anchovy, sardine and mackerel.
  5. Has the oil been certified by a reputable third party? If it has then this certification will be shown on the label and should confirm a star rating for safety, purity and label accuracy. On request the supplier should be able to issue you with a consumer report for the oil in the softgels, given the batch no. which should be displayed on the bottle.
  6. Do you experience fishy burps after consuming your fish oil supplement? A good quality, molecularly distilled, ultra-refined fish oil should not leave a fishy after taste.
  7. Are the manufacturers available to answer your questions? You should be able to ask tough questions of any supplier of fish oil regarding purity certification, type of fish used, whether cold or heat extracted, wild or farmed, sustainability and environmental impact.
  8. Is the oil in triglyceride(TG) or ethyl ester(EE) form? There is nothing wrong with the EE form however the triglyceride form is better absorbed so, although more expensive, you get more bang for your bucks. The TG form is more costly to produce so manufacturers will proudly display on the label if it is in TG form, meaning labels that don’t mention triglyceride will most likely be in ethyl ester form and should be cheaper as you will need to take a higher dose.

Of course I wouldn’t be telling you all this if the omega-3 fish oil supplements we offer on this site did not tick all of the above boxes. They have all been awarded a 5 star rating by International Fish Oil Standards. You can’t get better than that for peace of mind.

POLONY BOLONEY

It’s 2018 and South Africans are reeling from the shocking news of an outbreak of
deadly listeria which has claimed the lives of at least 180 people. The source of the
outbreak has been traced back to factories producing processed cold meats. Although
even one death from listeriosis is one death too many perhaps something good could
come out of this unfortunate crisis. For me the best outcome would be that moms rethink
what they are putting on their children’s sandwiches. We’re not even talking here about
the risk of life-threatening bacteria which in any case we hope will never happen again.
We’re talking about the nutritional value, or lack of it, in processed meats such as
polony, as well as the health hazards lurking in the additives.
When in 390BC, Hippocrates said: “Let food be your medicine…”, believe me, he was
not talking about polony – nor was he talking boloney. Have you ever investigated what
goes into processed meats such as polony and Vienna sausages? According to food
technologists for the most part they consist of mixtures of off-cuts from all types of meat
including organ meat, all ground up finely with loads of fat holding it altogether. Then
colourants, flavourants, loads of salt (sodium), nitrates and many other chemicals go in
to make these foods look appetizing and palatable enough to consume. Price and
convenience is what makes them popular, especially among feeding schemes for
disadvantaged children, where a slice of pink polony gets slapped between two slices of
nutrition-deficient white bread (more non-food). Sliced–to-go, so to speak. This
advantage of convenience, I’m sorry to say, does not outweigh the disadvantages.
Firstly, a processed meat such as polony has had all nutritional value processed right
out of it and does not carry within it the enzymes, vitamins and minerals required for its
digestion. As such the body has to draw on its own reserves of nutrients and enzymes to
metabolize it, thus depleting the immune system further. Not a good food for an already
immune-depleted body of a starving or sick child or anyone else for that matter.
Secondly, these foods are loaded with chemicals that are horrendously detrimental to
health. In 2015 the World Health Organisation classified processed meats as
carcinogenic to humans. They have certainly been linked to stomach and colorectal
cancer. This includes bacon, hot dog sausages, polony, salami, ham, and smoked or
cured meat. Likely contributors to the problem are the added nitrates and excess salt or
MSG and the smoking done to extend the shelf-life of such products. The World Cancer
Research Fund in the UK recommends an outright avoidance of all processed meats,
including biltong (sadly). Processed meats have also been linked to diabetes and heart
failure.
So why are we still eating them and serving them to our trusting kids? Seems we are not
doing our children any favours at all, apart from temporarily satisfying their hunger. The
more processed a food the less likely it will nourish you, and the more likely it will send
you to an early grave. Relying on the convenience of a major industrial operation to
prepare your food for you is seriously short-sighted. You may be paying less now in time
and money but the future "bill" you will get cannot be paid with money.

The general recommendation here is to restrict your meat choices whenever possible to
grass-fed and organic meats, cooked in their natural state. For school lunch boxes,
sliced cooked meat, pilchards, peanut butter, egg or cheese sandwiches are healthier
less processed options than polony.