Fats are a hot topic in the nutrition world at the moment, with many of them being given the all-clear as great health boosters. Omega-3s are one of these essential healthy fats that has perhaps not gained enough attention as it certainly packs a punch when it comes to optimising your health.
What are omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the greatest essential fats that your body requires to function at its best but that it cannot produce itself, hence ‘essential’. There are two kinds of omega-3; one type found in plants (known as ALA) and the other two types found in fish oils (known as EPA and DHA).
What are the health benefits of omega-3s?
Omega-3s have been long-acknowledged for their strong anti-inflammatory properties in the body due to their role in helping cell membranes to maintain fluid and flexibility. The impact of omega-3s on the body can be likened to the effect oil has in a car – when there is sufficient oil in a car, all parts move smoothly and they don’t rub together to generate heat, which in the body would be inflammation. Consuming omega-3s as an anti-inflammatory in the body can be beneficial for soothing your skin and improving your overall complexion. It may also promote luscious, thick hair and healthy nails. With appropriate amounts of omega-3 in your diet, you will be glowing from the inside out!
Further health benefits of these lovelies include regulating blood pressure and cholesterol to promote heart health, as well as supporting bone health and brain function. There is evidence to show that omega-3s may reduce risk of some brain illnesses, such as depression and dementia.
What are the best food sources of omega-3s?
Oily fish is the only edible source of EPA and DHA for humans. Some examples include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and oysters. Dry, white fish does not tend to contain much omega-3. Omega-3s can also be found in free range egg yolks (you can read more about eggs here) and grass-fed meat. When it comes to food sources of ALA, avocado, walnuts and flaxseeds are great examples of plant-based foods to include in your diet as rich sources of omega-3. We like to include ground flaxseeds and flax oil in our morning smoothies and of course avocado on toast is a delicious summer staple!
Not to be confused with omega-6…
Although omega-3 and omega-6 fats are both essential in the diet and have their own health benefits, they are completely different. Omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation in high doses and may be detrimental to health. Too much inflammation can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma and digestive problems. The majority of omega-6 in the modern diet comes from vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn, soy and peanut, and processed foods.
Most of us likely need more omega-3s and less omega-6s in the diet based on the average modern day diet. Limiting vegetable oils and using healthier cold-pressed oils is important, as well as avoiding processed foods as much as poss. Including those rich sources of omega-3s as discussed above is great, however if you can’t find food sources of these omegas that fit in with your daily intake, consider supplementing with flax, algae or fish oil. OMG omegas!