Consuming omega-3 is essential for our health, even though many of us aren’t getting enough in our diet. But what is omega-3 and why is it so important for our health?
What is omega-3 and why is it essential?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats commonly found in marine, animal, and plant sources. As humans, we cannot produce omega-3, which is why it's essential and important to incorporate these fatty acids into a healthy diet to avoid deficiency.
Among the different types of omega-3, the marine sources known as EPA and DHA are the most important, as they support heart health. You may have also heard of omega-6, which is mainly found in plants and usually we get enough of these through our diet.
There are also plant sources of omega-3, known as ALA, which can also be found in plants. Our bodies can convert ALA omega-3 into EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is low. Thus, it's important to include marine sources of omega-3, such as those found in fish, for good health.
How to get more omega-3 in your diet
The human body is unable to produce omega-3, which is why it’s important to consume these essential fats from marine, animal or plant sources that do produce omega-3. There are a variety of ways to get omega-3 into your diet, and the easiest way is to eat more fish.
Current advice is to eat at least two-three portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. That means you should up your intake of fish like salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna to ensure you and your family are getting a rich diet of essential fatty acids. Some types of white fish are also great sources of omega-3, like our Fish Fingers and Battered and Crumbed Fish Fillets.
Fish isn’t just high in omega-3 – it’s also packed with protein and other vitamins and minerals which is why it’s so healthy for us. There’s a huge variety of ways to enjoy fish and if you’re looking for some mealtime inspiration, be sure to take a look at our delicious fish recipes that are easy to cook and full of flavour which we’re sure everyone will enjoy!
What about vegans and vegetarians?
If you don’t eat fish – don’t fret, there are other ways you can incorporate omega-3 rich foods into your diet. Although fish has high levels of omega-3, vegetarians and vegans can get the required amount they need from alternative sources. Oil is a great source of omega 3, especially types like walnut and canola oil, whilst nuts and seeds like linseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also great sources for vegetarians and vegans.
Try snacking on walnuts and linseeds or sprinkle chai seeds on your porridge instead of eating fish or swap the olive oil for walnut oil in salads – a great and tasty alternative to getting omega 3, packed with goodness!
No matter your preference, there’s a way for everyone to include more omega-3 in daily meals and diets.
What about Omega-3 supplements?
Of course, there’s the option to get omega-3 from supplements like cod-liver oil, but consuming whole foods is the most effective way to ensure optimal omega-3 intake. As there’s such a variety of healthy foods containing omega-3, it’s easy to incorporate essential fats in your diet whilst enjoying delicious meals that are full of flavour and packed with goodness.
Whether you’re actively trying to eat a bit healthier or just want to try some new, tasty meals, increasing your intake of fish or nuts and oils is a great way to incorporate omega-3 in your diet at the same time. By making a few simple swaps to your diet, you can help your body get all the essential nutrients it needs.
Read our Findus guide for more information on the benefits of eating fish.