Chia Girl-Study: Omega-3 Critical to Kids’ Cognition, Chia Recipes to Up Their Intake

Our friend omega-3 tops health headlines again!  Let’s run down a few reasons why we love this nutritional gem:

  • Increased heart health
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved mental health, including lessening of depression
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Luxurious hair and nails (Luxurious may be a strong word, but I’ve noticed a change in my mane since upping my omega-3!)

If you want even more reasons, check out this list of 61 benefits of omega-3.  Not sure if you’re getting enough omega-3?  Read here for signs you may be deficient.

A recently released study adds to evidence that omega-3 is crucial to kids.  According to Carol L. Cheatham, PhD, developmental cognitive neuroscientist with the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) at the NC Research Campus, “children who were eating too many omega-6 in comparison to omega-3 had slower speed of processing on working memory and planning problems.”

So what’s the big difference between omega-6 and omega-3?

Omega-6 is more prevalent in the western diet and is found in foods like meats and refined vegetable oil.  According to research, too much omega-6 causes big problems, including chronic inflammation and heart disease.

That means keeping your omega-6 and omega-3 in balance is critical.

Cheatham says it’s like comparing french fries (omega-6) to vegetables (omega-3).

“Intake needs to be in balance because the metabolic pathways share the same enzymes. If the pathways get out of balance because you are eating more omega-6 than omega-3, the enzymes get used up, and you won’t be able to make your own DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)because you will be out of the things you need to make it,” she said.

Chia Chicken StripsKeeping that critical balance can be challenging with kids.  Popular omega-3 sources include salmon and halibut, which can be a tough sell for the toddler set.

Chia seeds offer the highest plant-based source of omega-3 and are easy to sneak into just about anything.   Check out this great blog post from Lil Sugar breaking down some delicious kid-friendly chia recipes, ranging from smoothies, to cookies, even chicken strips and meatballs!

These chicken strips by Savvy Mom look super easy and healthy!  Or you could improvise your own version by adding ¼ cup chia seeds to your breading.  Can’t wait to try this myself!

How do you make sure your kids are getting enough omega-3?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Chia Girl