What is omega 3 and why do we need it?
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“I’m about to do something that should reduce chronic inflammation, improve my heart health, mood and cognition,” said Dr Mosley on his podcast Just One Thing. “I’m about to eat some oily fish – smells like the sea.” If you’re not a fan of the taste, you might want to reconsider eating the oily meat just purely for its “fundamental” benefits.
As there are different types of omega-3s, the doctor shared that the “particularly important” ones are EPA and DHA.
He said: “These have been extensively studied and shown to help reduce inflammation, which is associated with a whole host of negative health outcomes, like heart disease and dementia.
“Probably the best proven benefit of eating oily fish impacts on heart health.
“The first hint of this came from studies looking at Inuit populations, whose diet contained plenty of seal and fish.
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“Despite the high fat intake and almost complete absence of vegetables, they had a particularly low incidence of heart disease.
“Thankfully, we don’t have to eat seals to see the positive effects.”
While there’s no need for seals, the doctor shared that the type of oily fish you eat still “matters”.
“White fish like cod, which you find in fish and chips are a great source of protein and other nutrients, but low in omega-3,” he noted.
The best way to identify oily fish high in the goodies is to use the acronym SMASH.
These letters stand for: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring.
“SMASH fish are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids,” Dr Mosley added.
Despite the fact that UK is an island and oily fish are packed with health benefits, only a quarter of British adults report eating them.
Furthermore, less than 16 percent of young adults eat at least two portions of fish a week.
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The NHS recommends having at least one portion of oily fish a week, which is the equivalent of around 140 grams when cooked.
However, the health service also notes that this type usually has higher levels of pollutants.
That’s why the following people should eat no more than two portions a week:
- Women who are planning a pregnancy or may have a child one day
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
However, research still links plentiful benefits to omega-3s in the meat which makes the fatty acids vital for good health.
Fortunately, you could also opt for other sources of these goodies. While the “strongest evidence” comes from looking at societies that eat more fish, according to Dr Mosley’s guest Dr Simon Dyall, supplements could also help.
He recommended reaching for algae forms of DHA if you’d rather stick to dietary products.
Dr Mosley added: “Eat oily fish or if you prefer seaweed to boost your omega-3 fatty acids and get some big benefits for your heart, your joints, your muscles and your brain.”
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