Why does fat play an important role in a healthy diet?
Fats should be given credit where it’s due – they are better than their reputation. They provide the body with energy and heat, form fat reserves for when we need it and ensure that the cells can absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, saturated fatty acids and especially trans fats are considered unhealthy in larger quantities. They are mainly found in animal foods such as meat, butter and industrially processed and ready-made products. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 3 and 6, on the other hand, can protect and exert positive health effects on the body.
Should I be taking omega 3?
Omega 3 is one of the polyunsaturated fatty acids. Together with omega-6 fatty acids, they regulate processes in our blood vessels. Omega 3 has a vasodilatory and blood pressure-lowering effect. It also strengthens our immune system, forms tissue hormones and protects our cells with antioxidant properties. Studies also suggest that omega 3 can have a positive effect on gut health, on the risk of heart attacks, on food allergy risks in unborn children and on autoimmune diseases.
The form of omega-3 fatty acids that is readily utilised by the body is found almost exclusively in fish such as salmon, tuna, maties and mackerel.
Omega-3 supplements: how much omega 3 should I take daily?
The daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids for men is 1,600 milligrammes and 1,100 milligrammes for women. However, it is common that we don’t consume this amount regularly enough. Therefore, you should consciously include fatty fish in your diet twice a week – preferably from sustainably caught fish. This should help you reach your daily requirement.
If you don’t like fish or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can resort to plant-based omega-3 sources such as linseed oil, rapeseed oil and walnuts. However, our bodies can only utilise the omega-3 fatty acids from plant foods in a certain way. It first has to convert the alpha-linolenic acid into omega-3 fatty acids.
If you want to make sure that your omega-3 levels are optimal, you can also consume these healthy fats by taking dietary supplements. In case of infections or illnesses such as diabetes or heart failure, it is best to consult a doctor first. How well your body is supplied with omega fatty acids and whether you have an omega-3 deficiency or surplus can also be determined conveniently at home with our Omega-3 Test.
Which omega-3 supplement should I buy: capsules or oil?
Omega-3 supplements should contain the active form of the nutrient – that is, EPA or DHA. Whether you buy omega-3 oil or capsules is literally a matter of taste. You can use the oil for your salad dressing though! If you are vegan, there are several vegan supplements that will boost your omega-3 levels that are not based on fish oil but on a plant-based alternative such as algae.