Omega-3 fatty acids are a popular mention in many health food blogs, and for good reason. They play an important role in keeping your heart, brain and even eyesight in working order.
Before we start, it is worth mentioning that if you have specific dietary requirements or health concerns, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised advice regarding omega-3 intake and supplementation. We’re here mainly for the fish.
But why is omega-3 so important? Well, the human body is pretty good at making the most of the types of fats it needs – but that isn’t the case with omega-3. Known as essential fats, your body can’t make them from scratch.
What are the different types of omega-3?
Just to make things more complicated, there are actually several different types of omega-3, but when people touch this topic they usually mean the big three:
Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. This is where your flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soybeans come in handy. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but this conversion is inefficient, with only a small portion being converted.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid primarily found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout. EPA plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation, promoting heart health, and supporting brain function. It has been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular health, including reducing triglyceride levels, improving blood vessel function, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) like EPA, can also be found in oily fish, in particular salmon and sardines, but also can be obtained from algae. DHA is an important component of the brain and retina. It is vital for brain developmentand function, vision health, and supporting a healthy pregnancy.
What does omega-3 do?
Heart health: Studies show that omega-3 lowers blood pressure, reduces triglyceride levels and the risk of blood clots.
Brain Function: Omega-3s are also critical for brain development and function throughout life.Adequate intake of omega-3s has been associated with improved cognitive function, memory, and mood. They may also reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Inflammation reduction: Chronic inflammation is a common factor in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation in the body, leading to improved overall health and a lower risk of chronic diseases.
Eye health: The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is highly concentrated in the retina of the eye. Adequate levels of DHA are crucial for maintaining good vision and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.
Joint health: Omega-3s may help reduce joint pain and stiffness associated with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory effects that can alleviate symptoms and improve joint function.
Skin health: Omega-3s help maintain healthy skin by supporting the integrity of cell membranes, promoting hydration, and reducing inflammation. They may improve skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Foods high in omega-3
Yes, we’re biased, but fish really is the best source of omega-3. There are, of course, other foods you can eat that contain these essential fats, including:
- Vegetable oils
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
But the tastiest option? It has to be fish. Also known as fatty fish or oily fish, this group is known for being packed full with omega-3 fatty acids. Some of our favourites:
Find all these species in our:
and discover beautifully prepared fish high in omega-3 with Regal Fish.
Try the recipes pictured in this article here: