How essential are Omega-3 fatty acids? A healthy amount of body fat is up to 19% for men and up to 33% for women. Humans can consume different kinds of fat from food. The generally healthier option is unsaturated fat. More specific types of healthy fat include omega-3 and omega-6. These are both critical for good health. Omega-3s are generally healthier and are critical for heart health, brain, skin, hair, etc.
Can Fat Be Healthy?
We often think fat is unhealthy. In past decades, health experts often recommended that people go on low-fat diets. Some studies show dropping fat intake to 10% of total calories can help with weight loss.
However, other studies show that high-fat diets are better for shedding pounds. That’s in part due to the popularity of low-carb diets like Keto and Atkins. These diets are not just low in carbohydrates but high in fat. For example, Atkins allows unlimited fat/protein, while Keto puts fat at around three-quarters of total calories.
While options like fish oil capsules can help, the best sources are food. That’s because they’re direct sources of nutrients like omega-3s, which the body can absorb easily.
Should You Consider Fat In Your Diet?
The focus now is more on the type of fat instead of the amount. Many health experts don’t recommend a long-term diet that makes at least 70% fat in your diet.
There are also certain kinds of healthy fats that are recommended. They include omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, and coconut oil. Meanwhile, omega-6s are often from vegetable cooking oils. These oils aren’t unhealthy, but they provide fewer health benefits versus omega-3s.
The key is to consume a higher ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat. This can provide several health benefits including heart health, brain function, and healthy hair/skin. It’s also important to avoid all trans fat.
This isn’t to say that saturated fat is completely unhealthy. For example, coconut oil and even beef or pork fat are considered some of the healthiest cooking oils. It’s really about how much you’re consuming. It’s better if most of your fat intake is from unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
These healthy fats have been trending in recent years. They are found in various sources like:
- Fatty Fish
- Nuts and Seeds
- Vegetable oils
There are two main kinds of omega-3s: EPA and DHA. These are both essential kinds of omega-3s that can provide various health benefits. For example, studies show that they can help with issues like heart health, brain function, and blood fat.
Omega-3s are found in both animal and plant-based foods. For example, you can find a plant-based omega-3 known as ALA in different foods. They include beans, nuts, seeds, oil, etc.
Various vegetable oils are high in omega-3s. They include walnuts, soybean, canola, and flaxseed oil. These are generally better than oils higher in omega-6s. It can be very easy to add omega-3 foods to your diet. For example, you can add ground seeds to yogurt, cereal, and salads.
Flax and chia are some of the best options. They not only have low net carbs but they’re also high in healthy fat, protein, vitamins/minerals, and fiber. This explains why the seeds are considered to be superfoods.
You can also add omega-3 oils to your baking. For example, you can add olive, coconut, or flax oils to your baked goods like bread, muffins, cakes, pies, and cookies. Besides that, you can even add the whole seeds to these foods to add extra nutrients like protein and fiber.
Meanwhile, butter is high-saturated fat. You can add omega-3 oils or ground seeds as a butter substitute.
Another way to consume more omega-3s is by snacking. For example, you can go with sunflower seeds, pistachios, and almonds, instead of potato chips and chocolate chip cookies.
Top Health Benefits of Omega-3s
DHA fatty acids make up 40% of the unsaturated fatty acids within the human brain. So consuming more omega-3s can help to improve brain function in various ways. These are another reason to consume more high-fat foods like tuna, cashews, and olives.
Inflammation is the body’s way of starting the healing process. The fatty acid may help fight inflammation due to conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Getting enough omega-3 known as DHA can help lower the risk of different eye conditions.
Some studies show that omega-3s might help to treat a condition known as “metabolic syndrome.” Various symptoms include:
- Belly fat
- High blood pressure
- High blood fat
- Insulin resistance
- Low good cholesterol
Studies show that foods high in omega-3 can help reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the top cause of death throughout the world.
Anxiety and Depression
According to research, Omega-3 might help to fight anxiety and depression. Consuming omega-3s regularly helps to prevent depression, and supplements can help reduce anxiety/depression through omega 3 fatty acids.