The idea of promoting any sort of fat seems bizarre. In fact, the world we live in serves to convince us that we should be avoiding any unnecessary intake of it. Yet Omega 3 remains one of the most popular supplements on the market.
Gone are the days when people think that all fat is bad. In reality it’s quite the opposite, and now we’re far more educated in the benefits of some fats and can recognise their significance in our diets.
Now surely I wasn’t the only one who was frequently reminded that fish is brain food as a child. Well as ludicrous as it sounds, it’s due to omega 3 that fish got this reputation. Omega 3 is a collection of polyunsaturated fatty-acids – the fatty-acids we are so frequently reminded are essential.
The reason they’ve been branded as essential is due to the fact that our bodies don’t produce them naturally. Which means we need to source all omega 3 from food or supplementation. And unlike the saturated fats you find in foods like butter, these fatty-acids can serve to reduce cholesterol.
It’s this relation to cholesterol that makes omega 3 so beneficial to us. High levels of cholesterol are most commonly associated with diseases of the heart – the biggest killer in the United Kingdom. The common misconception though is that increasing your intake of omega 3 can directly prevent cardiovascular disease – unfortunately the reality isn’t that simple.
There have also been attempts to link the intake of omega 3 with cancer prevention – then again, it seems almost everything either causes or prevents cancer nowadays. The truth is that there really isn’t a great deal of evidence linking to 2 though. It seems any evidence present is tentative to say the least.
This doesn’t mean we’re all being conned into thinking omega 3 is some magical elixir of life. There are plenty of benefits that are supported by concrete evidence. For one there appears to be a direct correlation between omega 3 intake and reduced blood pressure. Other suggested benefits include dementia prevention, treatment of bipolar disorder and even an ability to reduce depression.
Fish is by far the best source of omega 3, and really you should be looking to eat fish as the main protein in your meal at least once a week. This doesn’t mean it’s the only source though. For example walnuts have been shown to possess essential fatty acids, as do many plant oils from berries to flaxseed.
Okay, so maybe the benefits of omega 3 have been a bit glamorised, and maybe there are a few myths out there, but omega 3 shouldn’t be underestimated. All polyunsaturated fatty acids should be considered greatly important, because they really do benefit us in all sorts of ways.
So your parents really weren’t lying to you as a child, fish IS brain food!