Why you need Omega-3 fats in your diet


Reports show that people who live in the Mediterranean, Japan and Greenland, all countries who have a diet rich in omega-3 have been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease than people who live in Western countries such as the US and the United Kingdom. Due to this fact and other health benefits, it is recommended that we eat more foods that contain omega-3.

Fish and shellfish which are good sources of omega-3 also provide us with many other vitamins and minerals such as iodine, calcium and selenium.

Omega-3 fats are important for your health and come in different forms.

Different forms of Omega 3 fat:

  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) cannot be made in the body so must be eaten in our diet. It has important functions and is needed to make other omega-3 fats. ALA is found mainly in vegetable oils, rapeseed and linseed (flaxseed), nuts (walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts) and green leafy vegetables.
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are long-chain fats that can be made from ALA in our bodies. They have the most direct health benefits.

Where do omega-3 fats come from?

Making EPA and DHA from ALA happens slowly and only small amounts are formed. The best way of ensuring we are taking enough EPA and DHA is to eat foods rich in these fats. Fish, and especially oily fish, are good sources of EPA and DHA. Oily fish has the highest levels so we should try and include this in our usual diet. White fish contains some omega-3 but at much lower levels than oily fish.

Fish and Seafood which are known to be good sources of omega-3 include:

Fresh crab ▪ herring ▪ kippers ▪ mackerel ▪ pilchards ▪ sardines ▪ salmon ▪ sprats ▪ swordfish ▪ tuna (fresh or frozen) ▪ trout ▪ tuna ▪ whitebait

There are key benefits to eating oily fish which include the following:

  • Provides other important nutrients including vitamins A and D and protein
  • May protect the heart and blood vessels from disease
  • Supports healthy development of your baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • May be protective in maintaining good memory and prevention and treatment of depression

What is the recommended amount of fish we should eat?

It is recommended that everyone should attempt to consume at least two portions of fish every week and one of these should be oily fish.

The above information has been sourced from The Association of UK Dietitians https://www.bda.uk.com/


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