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What’s the first thing you give up when you want to lose weight? Is it fat? You aren’t alone – that’s what most people think, but not all fats are bad.
Sure, some fats are bad, especially in excessive amounts, but some are vital to your good health.
Knowing which fats are good and which are bad is essential to your health. Your body needs many fats to survive, but is Omega-3 fat a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fat?
Omega-3 Fats Are Good
Here’s the good news, omega-3 fats are good! They are the fats you find in walnuts, certain fish, and anchovies and a variety of plants. Not only are they ‘good,’ they are essential to proper health.
In fact, if you don’t have enough, your health could suffer. How’s that for ironic? All this time you probably thought fats were bad, right?
Just a few of the benefits of omega-3s include:
- Lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.
- Reduce the risk of depression.
- Lower the side effects of ADHD.
- Prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many types of omega-3s, but the three that help with the above issues are ALA, EPA, and DHA, none of which your body produces. Your body doesn’t store omega-3s like it does other fats.
Instead, they help with brain function, heart health, and reducing inflammation. Any omega-3s your body doesn’t use, it ends up storing up for energy, like any other fat, but it’s the primary function that you should focus on.
Now that you know your body doesn’t produce the Omega-3s it needs, how do you get them?
Getting Enough ALA
ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is a necessary component to fight against heart disease. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to get with foods like:
- Hemp seed
- Flaxseed oil
It’s easy enough to include these foods in your diet, even if you sneak them into a smoothie. Kale, spinach, and flax seeds especially are easy to get into your diet.
Getting Enough EPA
Your body needs EPA to fight depression, chronic inflammation, and to prevent various other diseases.
EPA isn’t as easy to get since they are found mostly in fish, such as salmon, eel, and shrimp. If you don’t like fish or can’t eat it, you may need to take fish oil supplements to ensure your EPA levels are high enough.
Getting Enough DHA
DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is important for your skin and eyes. If you had a baby recently, you are probably familiar with DHA as it’s in many baby formulas to help improve infants’ vision.
DHA is also an integral part of brain development and function in both children and adults.
Adults with a lack of DHA often have brain function issues, including the risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
When you get enough DHA, you may suffer less from serious illnesses including some cancers and high blood pressure.
Like EPA, DHA is found mostly in seafood, although some meat products have it too if they are a grass-fed animal product.
How To Tet Your Omega-3s
We mentioned fish above – try eating a fatty fish two times a week. This helps reduce your risk of heart disease, especially as you age.
If you are able to eat fish at least twice a week, you don’t need to take a supplement. You get plenty of omega-3s then. If you can’t eat fish whether because of preference or allergy, then a supplement is a good idea.
Before you take a supplement, talk to your doctor. You’ll discuss any interactions or health conditions you have that may interact with the supplements.
The good news is omega-3s don’t have mercury, nor does most fish available today, but you can always read the ingredients to ensure it’s mercury-free if it worries you.
Other Benefits Of Omega-3s
Besides the basic benefits of omega-3s, which include improving your heart and brain health, there are many other benefits that aren’t as widely known, but definitely help you stay healthy. They include:
Fight depression and anxiety – All omega-3s help decrease the risk of depression or anxiety, but EPA has shown the most positive results.
EPA is the nutrient you get from fatty fish, which if you can’t eat, make sure you get those supplements to help you fight stress.
Help your infant’s brain develop – While you are pregnant, your baby relies on the foods you eat. It’s essential that you get enough DHA to help your baby’s brain grow.
Getting enough DHA helps your baby have better brain development, communication skills, and possibly fewer developmental delays.
Fight inflammation – If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you may need more omega-3s.
Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting off infection, but when it remains and there isn’t inflammation, it can cause problems for you including heart disease. Omega-3s help fight this risk by reducing the inflammation.
Fight Alzheimer’s – No one wants to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s as they age, but it seems to be getting more prevalent today. The studies are still out, but informally, many experts believe that omega-3s help offset the risk of mental decline as you age.
The Bottom Line
Don’t look at all fats as bad. You even need a little bit of bad fat in your life – your body needs it! The good fat, though, make sure it’s included in your diet regularly.
If it’s not, take a supplement. Your body, brain, and even your skin will benefit from the good fat in your body.
While getting omega-3s right from its natural sources, including fish and plant-based fats, supplements are a great way to fill the void. Since our bodies need so many nutrients, it’s hard to get them all from your food, even if you ate the healthiest diet on the planet!
Consider discussing omega-3 supplements with your doctor to see if you’re a good candidate.