Fish and Omega 3 Fats

So Easter is upon us again and for many people Easter is a time to hit the seafood markets and serve up delicious fish, prawns and other seafood. It is great to see people eating fish at this time of year but we should all be including fish in our diets a couple of times each week all year round. The Heart Foundation recommends 2-3 fish meals per week for good health for everyone.

Now you may be wondering why fish is recommended 2-3 times a week- what’s so special about it? Fish is low in fat and a good source of protein- but most importantly it contains healthy fats including omega 3’s.

Omega 3 fats have been shown to have many health benefits, including being protective against heart disease, improving cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.

There are two types of omega 3 fats:

Long chain omega 3 fats (EPA, DHA, DPA) are found mainly in marine sources such as fish and seafood and are used more easily by the body. They are also found in smaller amounts in lean red meat and chicken.  Seafood sources rich in omega 3 fats include salmon, sardines, blue mackerel, blue-eye trevalla and gemfish.

Short chain omega 3 fats (ALA) are found mainly in plant based sources such as flaxseeds, walnuts, pecans, soy bean and canola. These are important for good health however they need to be converted into long chain fatty acids before the body can use them and this process is not always efficient. SO you may not be getting all the benefits of omega 3 fats if you are only eating small amounts of plant based omega 3’s.

How much should I be eating?

The Heart Foundation recommends consuming both types of omega 3 fats- marine and plant based each day for good health. For the general public the Heart Foundation recommendations are:

  • 500mg of marine based omega 3(EPA and DHA) such as from fish, seafood or fish oil supplements
  • 2-3g of plant based omega 3’s (ALA)

There are more specific omega 3 recommendations for people with heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, rheumatoid arthritis. If you would like advice on any other these conditions, please contact Nutted Out Nutrition for more specialised advice.

Should I be taking an Omega 3 supplement?

It is always good to try and get nutrients from food before turning to supplements. Eating whole foods can give the added benefits of consuming more nutrients and in some cases this can have added health benefits. That said supplements are appropriate for some people and fish oil supplements can be an important source of omega 3 fats for many people. It is recommended you seek the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian or you treating doctor to see if these are appropriate for you.

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