One of the most misunderstood macro nutrients when it comes to diet is fat. Fat gets a bad rap, but fat is essential for many functions in the body. Fats can be classified in two simple categories. The classifications are good fats and bad fats or unsaturated fats (good) and saturated fats (bad). Typically people don’t eat enough good fats as opposed to bad fats in their diets. The typical american diet is a ratio of 8 to 1 bad fats to good fats. The fat intake in a diet should be 3 to 1 good fats to bad fats.
Multi Purpose Fats
One of the best good fats you can have in your diet is omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are are considered essential because the body cant make them and you have to get them from your dietary intake. Omega 3 fatty acids are usually found in fatty fishes such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, tuna and herring. Omega 3’s can also be found in non fish sources such as leafy greens, walnuts, Flax seed and Chia seeds.
Omega 3 fats offer health benefits such as:
- being anti-inflammation agents
- help lower triglycerides
- help with cognitive thinking
- help develop the fetal brain of babies
- aids in dealing with A.D.H.D.
- aids in dealing with Alzheimer’s disease
- aids in dealing with asthma
- helps with dry skin
- aids in digestion
- helps with body fat loss
- helps with hormonal balance
- helps with muscle building
- helps with muscle activity
- helps boost metabolism
As you can see by the list Omega 3’s offer many health benefits.
Where to get Omega 3’s
The best source of nutrients to get Omega 3’s from is going to be cold water fatty fish. Wild caught fish will have a much higher concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids in them.
Generally the “fishier” a type the fish taste, the higher concentration of Omega 3’s it will have. If you are not a fish eater your next best option would be taking Omega 3 fish oil
pills or fish oil liquid. Through these methods your getting the omega 3 benefits without eating the fish. A good standard recommended dose would be 3 to 6 grams of fish oil pills for women and 6 to 9 grams of fish oil pills for men. If the thought of swallowing fish oil pills or taking fish oil by the spoonful is still too much for you, there are alternative non fish omega 3 sources. Flax seeds and Chia seeds are two very good plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Fish vs. Plant Sources
If you have the option of getting omega 3’s from fish and plants, you’re probably asking which source is better. The main difference however is plant source omega 3’s do not convert in the body like marine animal sources. You would have to take a lot more plant based sources to get somewhat of a benefit.
Plant based sources supply ALA while fish based sources supply DHA and EPA. ALA also known as Alpha Linoic Acid is a precursor to DHA and EPA. DHA and EPA are long chain fatty acids that make up the building blocks of cells while ALA is a short chain fatty acid and provides the body with energy but does not help build cells. While taking some form of Omega 3 will always be better than none, if given a choice opt for fish over plant to get your omegas.
Fats have recieved a bad rep as being a bad source of nutrition. In actuality the body needs a good amount of healthy fats to function optimally. The best good fat you can add to your diet it omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s provide the body with a ton of different health benefits. Omega 3’s can be found mainly in fatty fishes but also can be obtained thru green leafy veggies, walnuts, and flax seeds. The non fish sources of omega 3’s however are slightly different and do not process in the body nearly as well. For optimal health make sure you re regularly taking omega 3 fatty acids.