Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Facts About Omega-3

Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Facts About Omega-3
Source – Experience Life – LifeTime.Life

Most people would say “fats" when asked which food category they should avoid. While it’s true that certain kinds of fat are harmful to your health (and your waistline) in excessive quantities, there are others that we just can’t live without.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 3rd June 2022.

Good Fat, Bad Fat: The Facts About Omega-3

Most people would say “fats" when asked which food category they should avoid. While it’s true that certain kinds of fat are harmful to your health (and your waistline) in excessive quantities, there are others that we just can’t live without.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which may be found in walnuts, certain fruits and vegetables, and coldwater fish, including herring, mackerel, sturgeon, and anchovies, are among them.

It not only helps defend us against a variety of important health risks, but it also plays a crucial function in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body," Laurie Tansman, MS, RD, CDN, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, tells WebMD.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatic issues, and some skin conditions. Omega-3s have even been proven to strengthen the immune system and protect us against a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to some studies.

How do omega-3s work so many “miracles" in people’s health? Experts believe one approach is to encourage the creation of molecules in the body that help regulate inflammation in the joints, circulation, and tissues.

But their capacity to minimise the harmful effects of another crucial fatty acid known as omega-6s is just as significant. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in eggs, poultry, cereals, vegetable oils, baked products, and margarine and are considered important. They promote skin health, reduce cholesterol, and aid in clotting by making our blood “sticky." However, issues may arise when omega-6s aren’t balanced with enough omega-3s.

When blood is too sticky,’ it encourages clot formation, which may raise the risk of heart attack and stroke," American Dietetic Association spokesperson Lona Sandon, RD, tells WebMD. However, she added that omega-3s to the mix reduces the chance of heart issues.

According to recent studies, the most promising health benefits of essential fatty acids are obtained via a correct balance of omega-3s and omega-6s. Experts recommend aiming for a ratio of 4 parts omega-3s to 1 part omega-6s.

They claim that the majority of us fall dangerously short.

The average American diet has a 20 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which is problematic," Sandon, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, tells WebMD. While lowering your omega-6 consumption may assist, obtaining extra omega-3s from food is a superior option.

How to Get What You Need

Omega-3 fatty acids are composed of many different nutrients, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both are abundant in coldwater fish, which experts believe is one of the reasons why so many of us are lacking.

In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration and other organisations have issued warnings about mercury and other hazardous substances discovered in fish. Many people have stopped eating fish due to this, which Tansman believes is a huge mistake.

The whole FDA warning has been taken out of context, including who it’s for, which is mainly pregnant women and young children," she adds. Furthermore, according to Tansman, even if you strictly follow the FDA’s warnings, eating up to 12 ounces of a variety of fish each week is safe for everyone.

Two servings of fish per week is the guideline [for omega-3s]," Tansman adds. “At 3 to 4 ounces per serving, that’s far within the FDA’s recommended weekly maximum of 12 ounces.

According to the American Heart Association, those seeking to safeguard their hearts should consume a variety of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) at least twice a week. Heart disease patients should consume 1 gramme of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) each day, especially from fatty fish.

Even if you don’t like fish (or choose not to eat it), dietary alternatives may provide you with the nutrients you need. According to WebMD Weight Loss Clinic “Recipe Doctor" Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, one solution is omega-3-rich vegetables, especially flaxseed.

According to Magee, author of The Flax Cookbook, “it’s fair to say this is the most powerful plant source of omega-3." According to Magee, while flaxseed does not contain EPA or DHA, it does include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body may utilise to create EPA and DHA.

Flaxseed is offered whole seeds, powdered seeds, or oil at health food shops and many supermarkets. Although flaxseed oil includes ALA, Magee recommends powdered flaxseed since it also offers 3 grammes of fibre per tablespoon and beneficial phytoestrogens. Canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, grape leaves, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, and walnuts are all excellent sources of omega-3s.

Walnuts contain approximately 2.5 grammes of omega-3s per ounce — or one handful," Sandon adds. “That’s approximately 3.5 ounces of fish," says the narrator.

In addition to eating extra omega-3s, you can assist your heart by substituting some omega-6s in cooking oils with omega-9, a third fatty acid (oleic acid). This monounsaturated fat is primarily found in olive oil.

Though omega-9 is not considered “necessary" (the body can produce some), replacing it with omega-6-rich oils may help restore the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s and provide some extra health advantages.

Factors present in olive oil may help increase good cholesterol, which is beneficial for your heart," Magee adds.

Source - University of Western States

Supplements vs Foods

Think again if you believe fish oil capsules are the simplest and most low-calorie method to obtain omega-3s. Many dietitians advise against it.

There’s something about complete food that when it enters the body, it’s more than 90% absorbed, while a supplement is only around 50% absorbed," Sandon adds.

Furthermore, according to Sandon, since the components of various meals interact, they may provide a more complete and balanced supply of nutrients.

It may be something more than omega-3 fatty acids in fish that makes it so beneficial," Sandon speculates. “It may be the amino acids, which offer advantages that fish-oil supplements alone won’t deliver.

And if you believe fish-oil capsules would help you escape the dangers of fresh seafood contamination, think again. Because supplements in the United States are not regulated, some may include high levels of the same toxins found in fresh fish. Furthermore, since the oil is so concentrated, the supplements may create an unpleasant odour in the body.

More importantly, according to specialists, there is a risk of overdosing on fish-oil supplements, especially if you take more than the prescribed quantity. You run the danger of bleeding or bruising if you do so. When you receive your nutrition from foods, this is unlikely to happen.

If you need to lower your triglycerides, a harmful blood fat related to heart disease, one-time fish oil pills may significantly assist. According to the American Heart Association, people with very high triglycerides should take 2 to 4 daily grammes of omega-3s (including EPA and DHA) in capsules, but only after consulting with their doctors.

The important thing here is to never use these supplements without first seeing your doctor," Magee advises. “This isn’t something you should do on your own.

Heart-Healthy Omega-3 Recipes

While including fish in your diet is an excellent way to obtain adequate omega-3s, Magee provides these two recipes to get you started with flaxseed.

Each serving contains 1 gramme of omega-3 fatty acids, which is enough for one day. Keep in mind that you don’t need to obtain omega-3s daily; as long as you receive 6 to 8 grammes of omega-3s each week, your body will be OK.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Power Bars

  • 1 1/2 cereal bar or 1/4 cup granola cereal + 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • From The Flax Cookbook by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD (Marlowe & Co.)
  • 1 1/2 cereal bar or 1/4 cup granola cereal + 2 teaspoons peanut butter = 1 1/2 cereal bar or 1/4 cup granola cereal + 2 teaspoons peanut butter = 1 1/2 cereal bar or 1/4 cup granola
  • Cooking spray made from canola
  • 1 tablespoon margarine (butter or canola)
  • 1/3 cup smooth reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 2 cups gently packed tiny marshmallows
  • 1 cup granola (low-fat)
  • 1 cup cereal Rice Krispies (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 1/3 cup golden flaxseed, ground (golden flax works better in this recipe)
  • Using canola cooking spray, coat an 8 × 8-inch baking pan. Microwave the butter, peanut butter, and marshmallows in a medium microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on high or until the mixture is barely melted. To combine the ingredients, stir them together.
  • If the mixture isn’t melted or smooth, microwave it again for a few seconds. Then add the granola, puffed rice, and flaxseed and mix well.
  • Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan, using waxed paper to flatten it. Allow it to cool fully before cutting into 8 bars of similar size.

Yield: 8 bars

207 calories per serving, 5.5 grammes protein, 31 grammes carbohydrates, 8 grammes fat (2 grammes saturated fat, 1-gramme1-gramme monounsaturated fat, 1.8 grammes polyunsaturated fat), 4 milligrammes cholesterol, 3 grammes fibre, and 174 milligrammes sodium Fat calories account for 35% of total calories. 1 gramme omega-3 fatty acids, 0.7 gramme omega-6 fatty acids

Mochaccino Freeze

  • 1/2 cup regular yoghurt sweetened + 1/4 cup whole-grain, unsweetened cereal
  • From The Flax Cookbook by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD (Marlowe & Co.)
  • 1 cup vanilla frozen yoghurt (low fat), light vanilla ice cream (low fat), or ice milk (nonfat or sugar-free brands can be substituted if desired)
  • A quarter cup of low-fat milk
  • cooled 1/4 cup strong decaf coffee (use caffeinated if you prefer). Brew twice as much coffee as you desire without adding more water to create double-strength coffee.
  • 1 pound of ice cubes
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed (ground)
  • In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients.
  • Blend on high until completely smooth (about 10 seconds). Scrape down the sides of the blender and mix for another five seconds.
  • Pour the mixture into two glasses and drink up!

Yield: 2 smoothies.

157 calories per serving, 7 grammes protein, 23 grammes carbohydrates, 4.5 grammes fat (1.3 grammes saturated fat, 1-gramme monounsaturated fat, 1.9 grammes polyunsaturated fat), 7 milligrammes cholesterol, 2.3 grammes fibre, and 79 milligrammes sodium Fat calories account for 26% of total calories. 1.5 grammes of omega-3 fatty acids 0.4-gramme omega-6 fatty acids


  2. Laurie Tansman, MS, RD, nutrition coordinator, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York; Lona Sandon, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; associate professor of nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, consultant, WebMD Weight Loss clinic; author, The Flax Cookbook (Marlowe and Company), Northern California; American Heart Association Advisory on Omega-3 fatty acids; Food and Drug Administration Advisory on Fish Consumption.

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