The UK government recommends we should aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week; one of these should be oily in order to increase our intake of omega-3 nutrients. So, if you’re looking to keep your heart healthy, omega-3 is definitely something to clue yourself up on.
Omega-3 fatty acid is a type of unsaturated fatty acid found in both animals and plants, which benefits the body in different ways depending on the source. The primary animal sources are krill oil and fish oil, while the primary plant sources are flaxseed, chia and hemp.
The two omega-3 fatty acids considered most crucial come from marine animals such as fish and krill, which provide eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are known for various health benefits and particularly for their contribution to normal heart function. Flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, on the other hand, offer alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
So what is the real difference between saturated and unsaturated fats, and is one better for your health than the other? The difference comes down to simple structure. That is, the number of double bonds in the fatty acid chain. Saturated fatty acids lack double bonds between the individual carbon atoms, while in unsaturated fatty acids there is at least one double bond in the fatty acid chain.
Another difference is that saturated fats are solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are liquid. Unsaturated fats can further be categorised as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats contain only one double bond in its structure, while polyunsaturated fats contain two or more double bonds in their structure.
Many governments and scientific bodies currently recommend monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats – for example certain fish, nuts, plant oils and avocados. Fish that are high in omega-3 include salmon, lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna, but many types of seafood also contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in saturated
Fat should be limited. They can be found in full fat dairy products and meats (as well as many processed foods like cakes and biscuits).
While it’s not practical to eliminate saturated fat in your diet entirely, as it is present (in small amounts) in many foods, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet is recommended.
According to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey the proportion of adults meeting the 5-A-Day recommendation was 27% of those aged 19 to 64 years and 35% of those aged 65 years and over. Most of us don’t eat the recommended 30g of fibre a day and oily fish consumption is below the recommended 140g per week.
Taking supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids such as those in the Seven Seas Simply Timeless Cod Liver Oil range, can help top up your intakes of omega-3
As with most fatty fish oils, it contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are especially important for normal heart and brain function. The beneficial effects for heart function are obtained with an intake of 250mg EPA and DHA per day. For brain function, 250mg DHA per day is needed.