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What’s the deal with healthy fats?
Yes, finally, the consensus is in, and fats are actually good for you! Now hold on, the important thing to note here is that not all fat is created equal. The fats that you get in a candy bar are nowhere near beneficial. However, the ones you find in a salmon pack a powerful nutritional punch – those fats are the omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are those essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, that cannot be produced by the body – in other words, they must be ingested.
There are three types of omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in vegetable sources, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which come from fish and other marine life sources. If you had to rank omega-3s from best to worst, the EPA and DHA would stalemate as a tie. EPA supports the heart, immune system, and anti-inflammatory responses, while DHA strengthens the brain, eyes, and central nervous system. ALA still plays an important role as it can produce EPA and DHA within the body, the process just takes a bit longer. Seafood sources are best, but the nuts filter in at a close second.
Let’s take a look at what omega-3s can do for your health.
Research is showing positive results for all diabetics and non-diabetics alike as the benefits become more and more apparent from consumption. The benefits you can receive from incorporating omega-3s into your diet are plenty.
Omega-3s can help:
- stave off coronary heart disease.
- stabilize blood sugar levels.
- decrease insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
- balance cholesterol levels.
- reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
- reduce inflammation in the muscle, bones, and joints.
- Improve Mood.
- Improve the immune system.
Had enough? Probably not – the American diet is lacking in Omega-3s.
Unfortunately, the modern day American diet consists of little to no seafood consumption. It’s important to make seafood a routine staple of your weeknight dinner regimen.
Stock up on fish that contain the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish containing the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Albacore Tuna
And the runners-up of the Omega-3’s world (yet, still highly beneficial) are nuts, as they contain ALA. Omega-3 containing nuts include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
Don’t be surprised to find omega-3s in food items that don’t originate from the sea. Many foods are being fortified with these healthy fats – such as eggs, spreads, yogurt, bread, and pasteurized dairy products.
Fish oil supplements are a great option if you just can’t seem to get on board with eating fish (or aren’t eating enough). However, most doctors will tell you that you should be adding them to your dietary needs instead of replacing the food sources altogether.