We have discussed healthy fats at previous Cook Togethers, but have yet to emphasize the ‘darling’ of the healthy fats: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are considered the healthiest of all fats, due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are essential, meaning our bodies can’t make them, so they must be obtained from the diet. Most of us get plenty of omega-6 fats in the diet, so it is safe to assume that we could all benefit from focusing on adding more omega-3 fats to the diet.
Research has determined that omega-3 fats have the following benefits:
- Reduce inflammation – most metabolic diseases share a common pathology – inflammation. The EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) / DHA (dosahexaenoic acid) in omega-3 fats help reduce inflammatory pathways in the body, helping to prevent the manifestation of metabolic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
- Protect the brain – EPA plays a critical role in supporting the healthy regulation of cellular inflammation, while DHA is the most abundant omega 3 found in the brain and helps to maintain nerve cell structure and function.
- Reduce joint pain – The EPA and DHA in omega-3’s can reduce inflammation in the joints and reduce pain and swelling.
With these impressive health benefits it is easy to see why we can all benefit by including these fats in the diet. Fish and fish oil is the best source of EPA/DHA. Plant based omega-3 foods like walnuts, chia and flax seed are ALA fats and must go through a conversion process in the body to become EPA/DHA. However, this conversion process is quite inefficient. Thus to reap the inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fats fatty fish at least 2/week or a daily fish oil capsule with apx 500 mg EPA/DHA is recommended.
Omega 3 rich foods – salmon, mackerel, and cod, grass-fed pastured meat, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and smaller amounts in green vegetables.