When it comes to dietary fat, not all fat is created equal. Most of the fat in your diet should come from heart-healthy unsaturated sources including mono and polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have gotten a lot of attention due to the many health benefits they are associated with. So why are omega-3’s important for health and where can we find them?
A growing body of research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3’s can help prevent heart disease, including helping to prevent our arteries from hardening, lowering triglyceride levels and helping to reduce blood pressure. Studies also show that omega-3’s may help reduce inflammation, boost our mood and protect against depression and promote brain health and memory.
Omega-3’s are considered essential fatty acids which means that they need to be included in our diet for good health. There are several different types of omega-3’s including some you may have heard of such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA and DHA are found mainly in fish, especially higher-fat, cold-water varieties such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and anchovies. ALA, which is converted to omega-3’s in our body, is found in plant sources such as walnuts, flax and oils such as flaxseed, canola and soybean oil. To ensure you are getting enough omega-3’s in your diet, aim to eat 8 ounces of fatty fish each week and replace foods high in saturated fat with those rich in omega-3’s.