What is Omega 3?
By The Nutrition Expert editorial teamwith expert comment from Dr Sarah Brewer
Published Date: 14/12/2016
Current Government guidelines state we should eat two
portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily. Here we discuss the
nutritional elements behind these guidelines.
Omega 3 is
an unsaturated fatty acid, derived from vitamin F and commonly found in marine
and plant oils.
What is the difference between omega
3 and cod
Omega 3 and cod
liver oil contain equally valuable nutrients for the human body. Both contain unique
polyunsaturated fats that are beneficial to our health. Cod liver oil is a source
of essential fatty acids, and contains the essential omega 3 fatty acids
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), along with vitamins
A and D.
are sources of unsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 supplements, being more
concentrated, tend to contain a higher dose of DHA and EPA fatty acids than cod
Polyunsaturated fats: the specifics
Omega 3 belongs
to the polyunsaturated fat family, of which there are three main types of omega
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), as mentioned
above, are known as ‘marine omega 3s’ and derive mainly from fish.
The third type, Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is the most common form of omega
3 fatty acid in Western diets. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, but
production is limited. It can be sourced from foods such as leafy vegetables,
walnuts, flaxseeds and vegetable oil.
facts about fat
The classification of fats as either healthy or harmful can be confusing.
Polyunsaturated fats, as you may have guessed, are the good guys.
Consider them a member of the ‘un-saturated fats’ family, alongside
monounsaturated fats, which are found in abundance in avocado and olive oil.
Saturated fats and trans fats require careful monitoring. Brits don’t
typically over eat on the trans-fat front, however, on average people get 12.6% of their energy (kJ/kcal) from saturated
fats, which is slightly above the 11% maximum recommended by the Government.
The benefits of omega 3 are
endorsement of omega 3’s benefits is profound. Current UK guidelines, to eat at
least two portions of fish a week, were developed based on evidence formulated
in 2004, which found eating oily fish can lower blood pressure and reduce fat
build up in the arteries.
It is the
‘PUFA content’, or polyunsaturated fatty acids of oily fish that are
responsible for these health benefits.
Polyunsaturated fats are the main ingredient of omega three.
completed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), suggests
that ‘fish consumption, particularly that of oily fish, decreases the risk of
cardiovascular disease’. Not only this, it is thought to play an important role
in fetal and infant growth.
Omega 3 helps
us to maintain normal brain function. It can also be combined with other
nutrients, such as glucosamine, which is beneficial for joint health. Dr. Sarah
brewer confirms this saying it will ‘reduce inflammation and ‘oil’ your joints from the inside’.
systematic research conducted by the University of Melbourne, amongst others, as
well as published in the American journal of Psychiatry, ‘omega-3 fish oils may boost the beneficial effect of
upbeat about the results, especially for omega-3 oils, which they said ‘could
now be recommended for use as an add-on treatment alongside antidepressants, on
the basis of their results’.
omega 3 through diet
body is incredibly intelligent. It can make most of the fats it needs from
other fats or raw materials. Unfortunately, this is not the case for omega 3,
which are essential fats that we have to acquire through our diet. The
following foods are particularly high in omega three content:
Assuming oysters and caviar, which are also high
in omega 3 content, are not regulars on the menu, achieving the recommended
intake is not always easy. Supplements are a quick
and easy way to keep on top of your polyunsaturated fatty acid intake. Try Healthspan’s
Super Strength Omega 3 tablets.