How introducing the essential fatty acid to your diet could help towards a healthy lifestyle
“Increasing your omega 3 fatty acids could not only help lower your risk of heart problems and inflammatory conditions, but it is also a positive step towards a healthier, more balanced diet,” says Jennifer Low, a qualified dietician and fitness instructor.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are named ‘essential’ because they cannot be synthesised by the body and must be obtained through our diet. Oily fish is a rich source of omega 3 but it’s not always easy to get enough and our bodies may need an extra boost.
What benefits does omega 3 have?
“Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid and one of the “good” fats our bodies are unable to make,” says Jennifer. “All types of fat are vital in our diet; they provide energy, allow the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), provide a protective layer around our organs, and are needed for hormones to be made by the body.
“Fatty acids have been found to reduce total blood cholesterol and triglycerides and may increase the HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood, and could help in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Additionally they may help reduce inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, while recent research suggests omega 3 could help depression too.”
Six easy steps to getting enough omega 3 in your diet
1. Maintain a healthy diet - A balanced diet consists of plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible and include some milk and dairy products (2-3 portions per day). Try to eat only small amounts of foods and drinks that are high in fats and/or sugar.
2. Increase the amount of oily fish you eat – If you can, try to have at least one portion a week of fresh tuna, fresh or tinned salmon, sardines, pilchards or mackerel. Change your cheese sandwich for smoked salmon and add flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal in the morning - another great source of omega 3.
3. Take an omega 3 supplement – Ideally your intake of omega 3 should come from a balanced diet which includes oily fish, yet only one third of the population eat it on a regular basis. Supplements could help boost your levels.
4. Put your supplements in an obvious place – Having a set time to take your supplement, such as after breakfast, and leaving them in easy reach should help remind you to take them each day.
5. Make a weekly meal plan – Planning meals in advance could mean avoiding quick and easy ready meals or processed foods. Factor oily fish into your diet at least once a week.
6. Healthy snacks to hand – Nuts and seeds are a good source of omega 3. Instead of reaching for crisps or biscuits, have a pack of mixed nuts and raisins or roasted seeds in your cupboard.
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