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Omega-3 fatty acids and why they should be in the diet

 

So first of all, what are omega-3 fatty acids?

 

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

 

ALA is mostly present in plant oils, chia seeds, flaxseed and walnuts. DHA and EPA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for many functions in the body. The body does need some fat to function, such as protecting our cells and for hormonal regulation. Our bodies can do a lot of incredible things to create and convert foods into important nutrients for the cells, however, omega-3 fatty acids cannot be created in the body, which is why they are called essential fats, and why we need them in our diet.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to assist in alleviating stress, promoting eye health, can improve brain and heart health, and reduce the risk factors for heart disease. For example, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can assist in lowering blood pressure, and increasing the levels of “good” cholesterol in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can also improve sleep and assist in healthy weight loss.

 

A fantastic way to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake is to consume 2-3 servings of fish per week, such as salmon. Most individuals get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their diet, however, discussing ways to increase the omega-3 content of your diet with a dietitian can be very beneficial. We can also assist in discussing options for supplementation, if required.