Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fat found naturally in oily fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables. Research indicates that Omega-3 protects against an array of health problems such as heart disease, inflammation, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and vision loss. It also plays a vital role in the brain development and neurological function of babies. Our bodies can synthesise our own omega-3 fatty acids, apart from alpha-linolenic acid; therefore we also need it in our diets.
Most of the alpha-linolenic acid that we consume is used for energy around the body, but about 5% is converted to more potent forms of omega-3, which are the ones that offer the amazing health benefits.
There is not yet a standard recommendation for the amount of omega-3 we require, but suggestions range between 500-1000mg daily. A can of tuna or a few ounces of salmon contains over 500mg.
If you’re not a fish fan, fortified foods are becoming increasingly popular in terms of omega-3 with fortified eggs, margarine, milk, juice, soymilk and yoghurt all now widely available in most supermarkets. Here are some tips to help boost your intake:
- Add walnuts to cereal, salads, bread and muffins. Walnut oil also makes a great salad dressing.
- Eat two 4-ounce portions of oily fish per week, e.g. salmon, trout, tuna canned in water, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
- Some chickens are fed with high omega-3 chicken feed and therefore eggs from these chickens will contain more. You can find out by checking the package label.
- Oils such as canola, flaxseed or soybean are also great sources of omega-3 so use as dressings and for cooking.