Omega-3 fatty acids
What exactly are omega-3 fatty acids and why are they so healthy?
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. One of these omega-3 fatty acids the so-called ALA (alpha linoleic acid) is an essential fatty acid which means that we cannot produce this from other nutrients, but need to obtain it from our food. The other and more known omega-3 fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which we can produce ourselves from ALA. However, this is only partially sufficient and food is the preferred source of EPA and DHA.
Mackerel is full of Omega 3 fatty acids
Fatty fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in many processes of our body such as the development and maintenance of a healthy brain and the development of the eyes of unborn children. In adults, it has become increasingly clear that omega-3 fatty acids also play an important role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels which is important to keep our blood vessels healthy.
You may have heard also about omega-6 fatty acids of which linoleic acid is the best known. For our health, it is important that the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega -3 fatty acids is between 3 to 1 and 5 to 1. However, our modern Western food contains far too many omega-6 fatty acids and too little omega-3 fatty acids that results in an unhealthy ratio between 10 to 1 and 30 to 1 which can lead to a variety of health problems such as painful joints, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. It is, therefore, a wise decision to consume foods regularly that are rich in omega-3.
You probably may know that various types of fish contain relatively large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These fish are usually called ‘fatty fish‘ and the most well-known species are herring, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and trout. These fish do not produce the fatty acids themselves but source these from their feed, especially algae. Farmed fish contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids than wild fish since their feed contains less omega-3 fatty acids and more omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in other types of food such as various types of nuts, meat and dairy from grass-fed cattle and olive oil.
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids
On the internet, you can discover other sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well. However, the reality is that most of us do not get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids from our regular diets, especially because we do not eat fatty fish preferably twice a week. It is therefore wise to consider to take supplements that contain a balanced combination of EPA and DHA.