Scenario: Three girls contemplate the perfect diet over lunch…
Girl 1 – “I’ve done my research online and I’m on a high-carb, low fat diet – its definitely the best one out there.”
Girl 2 (shaking her head) – “No no you’ve got it all wrong! Haven’t you read that famous study by what’s his name? That doctor who calls himself a doctor but doesn’t actually have a medical license? The high-carb, high fat diet is the only way to go!”
Girl 3 (rolls her eyes) – “Well I’m on a high-fat, low carb diet and I’ve never felt better!”
Ah fats. These poor little acids get a pretty bad wrap amongst a sea of mislead information.
Fats are not created equal. The length of a fats carbon chain, the degree of its saturation and the position of its double bonds affect the role it plays in our bodies. Dietary fats can either get oxidised to give your body energy, be stored as triglycerides, affect your cell membrane fluidity, modulate ion channels in your body and even affect gene expression.
Yes, saturated fats and trans-saturated fats are detrimental to one’s health when ingested in large quantities. HOWEVER, omega 3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) possess countless health benefits.
So what are their benefits? Evidence suggests that omega 3s:
– decrease the risk of athersclerosis (helping to reduce cardiovascular disease risk)
– reduce inflammation
– lower blood pressure
– boost good cholesterol (HDL).
Omega 3s are also involved in the production of serotonin and dopamine (the brains’ “happy” hormones). Some recent research suggests that they may be protective against depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In infants omega 3s help with brain, nerve and eye development.
There are 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids:
1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – this can be converted by the body into EPA and DHA.
***The most potent omega 3s are EPA and DHA…***
So what foods offer me omega 3s?
Good sources of EPA and DHA include:
Salmon, herring, oysters, sardines, anchovies and mackerel.
HOWEVER, If you are allergic to fish, vegan or you just don’t like seafood, you CAN eat plant rich ALA foods (you just need to eat more of them) as your body can convert them to DHA and EPA.
Good sources of ALA forms include:
Flax seed oil, hemp oil, flax meal, walnuts, pecans, olive oil, seaweeds (kelp/nori), edamame beans and certain leafy green vegetables like romaine lettuce and spinach.
If you can’t get enough omega-3 from your diet you could consider taking a fish oil supplement. If you do not eat fish (and don’t like the idea of a fish-oil supplement) you can obtain DHA-enriched algae supplements. BUT, as always, the best option is to get your nutrients through food.
If you are looking at supplementation, please make sure you check the milligrams of omega 3 you will be getting in a capsule – as you might be getting ripped off.
So yeah, omega 3s…there are some meGAh benefits in eating them if you ask me!
Images sourced via pinterest. Authors unknown.