Contrary to popular belief, your body needs fat. In fact, fat is found in the membrane of every cell in your body.
While it never hurts to watch your fat intake (although a huge 2017 study correlated high intake with a reduced risk of death and stroke), you should be more focused on getting the right kind of fat rather than trying to remove them from your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are superior to other types of fat. They provide protective anti-inflammatory properties that may be able to protect against chronic diseases and lower blood pressure.
To ensure that you are getting enough in your diet, you may want to take an omega-3 deficiency test.
Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. It is considered to be an essential fat, as the body cannot make it and must therefore derive omegas from food.
Omega-3 fatty acids affect the function of cell receptors in cellular membranes and are needed for the manufacture of hormones that regulate blood clotting, relaxation of the artery walls, contractions and inflammation.
Omega-3s also help to protect the cardiovascular system, while further research indicates the potential to control lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and eczema. Some studies even suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may protect the body against chronic diseases such as cancer.
Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids. They are:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA
- Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA
- Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA
EPA and DHA can be found mainly in fish. They are also sometimes called marine omega-3’s. ALA is most commonly found in the Western diet. Sources include flaxseed, leafy vegetables, vegetable oils and animal fats. The body uses ALA for energy, but too much can be stored as fat.
DHA and EPA are the largest building blocks of the brain. According to a study published in Alternative Medicine Review, they may help lower the risk of premature death.
Research has shown that DHA is essential to both prenatal and postnatal brain development. DHA has been shown to benefit attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and aggression.
DHA has also been linked to benefits in major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as borderline personality disorder.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health. Not getting enough DHA has been linked with a decline in cognitive function; Huntington disease may be associated with a deficiency in omega-3’s as supplementing with the essential fats has improved the condition.
Being deficient in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to increase aggression and depressive disorders. Deficiencies in DHA and EPA are linked with lower serotonin levels during critical periods of neurodevelopment.
This may also result in decreased heart rate variability and hypertension, which have been associated with behavioural problems.
Testing for Omega-3 Deficiencies
Although different organisations will tell you different amounts, most experts agree that getting 500 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA/DHA is recommended.
This is equivalent to two meals of fatty, low mercury fish per week. But not everyone gets this amount in their diet. Some people may feel like they need more for various reasons. Testing for an omega-3 deficiency is the best way to ensure you're getting enough.
Best Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Away from supplements, the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold water fish. These include salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, tuna, halibut, and oysters.
For some of us with limited access to fresh fish, getting our recommended intake of omega-3’s can be difficult. Supplementing with a high-quality fish oil is the best way to make sure you get in your daily dose.
It is important to make sure your fish oil comes from a high quality source to rule out toxins and other impure ingredients you may unknowingly be ingesting.
Water For Health’s UnoCardio 1000 is the number one ranked fish oil in the world according to independent laboratory Labdoor. Of over 50 fish oils tested, it was the only one to get an A rating for quality and purity. It has held the top spot amidst fierce competition since 2015.
You can see Labdoor's full report here.
Incidentally, WHC's UnoCardio X2 is ranked #3 on the list. Although it is similar to UnoCardio 1000, it does not contain added vitamin D3.