It’s a misguided, and common misconception that fat is bad and that fat is the enemy. I am often left amused and fed up by the amount of times I have to explain to people that fat is not bad and cutting fat out of your diet is a dreadful idea, and that its simply a matter of choosing foods that contain the correct types of fat that is important because not all fats were created equal.
A particularly important fatty acid, which has gained prominence in recent years, is Omega 3. Unfortunately statistics show that as a nation we do not actually consume enough omega 3 in our diet, which is ironic and says a lot about consumer food choice and knowledge regarding good fats Vs bad fats considering the UK has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe.
Omega 3 fats are a polyunsaturated fat which has been proven to be extremely beneficial for health. They are broken down into 2 forms; DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and are required in our diet for optimum health. Furthermore, the human body can’t produce omega 3s, so the only way to provide the body with this excellent fatty acid is to consume it through diet (be it in the form of supplementation or omega 3 rich foods).
Cold water oily fish provide us with an excellent source of omega 3, and salmon and sardines are particularly good sources.
Fish is like marmite for a lot of people, and I appreciate that some people just plain don’t like fish (I was even one of these people once upon a time!). Fear not because omega 3s are not just found in fish. Some nuts are also excellent sources of this essential fatty acid and these include walnuts, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.
For those that don’t like fish or nuts, or want more omega 3 in their diet fear not because the health and supplement industry cottoned on to the benefits of omega 3s a long time ago! Omega 3s can be purchased in gel capsules from MonserSupplements.com. I don’t personally believe this is the best way to consume omega 3, even if you dislike fish and/or nuts. I have issues with the purity of the omega 3s found in these products, so I prefer to eat salmon one or two times a week and consume an omega oil product. Many health stores offer their own omega oil product, but I prefer and trust Udo’s Organic Omega Oil which you can get on MonsterSupplements.com. I take 1-2 spoons of this a day in protein shakes or on salads etc to boost my healthy fat and omega3 intake.
The British Food Standards Agency recommends that we eat oily fish regularly – up to 4 portions a week (and up to 2 portions a week for pregnant women). Interestingly the cap on portions is not due to an overdose of omega 3 acid, but due to concerns that fish may be contaminated (due to water pollution) by mercury, dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
You can buy omega 3 enriched products such as eggs or margarine but I don’t suggest that you rely on these as a source of omega 3 as you would need to consume vast quantities to get anywhere near a decent amount of omega 3.
The benefits of taking omega 3 oil include
- Decreased levels of triglycerides (a fat found in the blood which is linked to heart disease)
- Decreased risk of arrhythmias (irregular hear rhythms) which can cause heart attacks and death
- Decreased growth rate of fatty plaque in arteries
- Reduced inflammation (particularly joints)
- Influences brain development in infants
- Helps development of childhood vision and protects against most common causes of blindness in the eldery
Of the most interesting benefits (besides protecting our hearts which is always important!) for regularly gym goers, bodybuilders and athletes, and even the elderly is that essential fatty acids have been found to be an excellent and natural anti-inflammatory. I have personally found that supplementing with omega 3 oil has completely removed knee pain and inflammation I suffered for years from several dislocations during my teens. Within 3 days of not taking omega oil supplements or salmon this pain and the inflammation of my knee quickly returns.