Omega-3 foods are great for health.
They belong to a broad group of fats called polyunsaturated fats,.
The simplest omega 3 fatty foods are called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important fatty acid that our body can’t make from scratch.
We can take ALA and then transform it into Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), these contain more double bonds and are more complicated then ALA.
Many studies show the significant health benefits of these acids, that support many of our body’s systems and reduce the risk of many chronic health diseases.
So without question, our bodies require ALA, EPA, and DHA to stay healthy and we need to consume foods rich in alpha-linoleic acids, because our bodies lack the ability to synthesise it.
How much omega-3 is right?
The two types of Omega-3 – long and short chain fatty acids, EPA and DPA, which we discussed here – are required for health.
Oily fish is by far the most important source of omega-3s.
Generally, it works on the principle that the colder the water, the more omega-3 is to be found in the fish.
The recommended intake is roughly two 75-gram servings of cold water fish per week. The highest concentration of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are found in the following cold water fish:
Typically, a 100 gram serving of mackerel will give you almost 2.5 grams of combined DHA and EPA. Other fish and seafood such as halibut, scallops, and shrimp contain smaller amounts.
Along with fish, try to ensure you have other good sources of omega-3s in your diet.
Other Omega 3 Foods
- Soy nuts
- Omega-3 fortified eggs,
- Flaxseed make sure it is ground, as whole flax will just pass through the body
Whilst we agree supplements are no substitute for eating the real deal, for those who don’t like eating fish they are the only option.
If you are considering taking a supplement, ensure that you are taking around 500 mg of EPA plus DHA daily.
The Naked Truth
Once you start to take your essential fatty acids, your body gets to work converting the short chain fatty acids into long ones.
Interestingly, because all the fatty acids are competing for the same enzymes, if our body has too much Omega 6 in the diet, which a western diet often has, then not much of the ALA actually gets converted.
What this means, is that if you are not eating enough fish in your diet, you need to try to cut down on sources of Omega-6’s such as sunflower margarine and corn oil.