Omega-3: fat that helps you burn fat
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, a kind your body can’t produce, which means you have to get them through your diet. The three most common types of Omega-3 fats are:
- EPA: Its main function is to produce chemicals called eicosanoids, which help reduce inflammation and may also reduce symptoms of depression.
- DHA: Making up about 8% of brain weight, this fatty acid contribute to brain development and function.
- ALA: This fatty acid can be converted to EPA and DHA, although the process is not very efficient. Studies have shown ALA benefits the heart, immune system, and nervous system.
What are the health benefits of Omega-3?
- Improving heart health by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, blocking the formation of dangerous blood clots, and reducing levels of triglycerides, a fat-carrying particle in the blood.
- Breaking down body fat by reducing triglycerides.
- Fighting inflammation associated with many chronic diseases.
- Boosting metabolism by stimulating production of leptin, the hormone that signals to your brain that you’re full.
Add more Omega-3 into your diet.
- EPA and DHA are mostly found in fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, but can also be consumed through fish oil supplements. These are the easiest for your body to use.
- ALA is found in walnuts, seeds and seed products such as flaxseed and flax oil, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts and kale, and in some grass-fed animal products. It’s also often used to fortify products like eggs. However, ALA is more difficult for your body to work with than EPA and DHA.
- Saturated and trans fat can negate the positive effects of omega-3, so make sure to minimize your intake of those fats. Instead, opt for foods higher in omega-3s and other sources of unsaturated fats, like avocado, nuts, nut butter, and seeds.
Now what’s the deal with Omega-6?
Omega-6 fats don’t get as much of a good rep but are also polyunsaturated fats and support cardiovascular health. They lower harmful LDL cholesterol, boost protective HDL and help keep blood sugar in check.
What’s the issue?
- The main concern about Omega-6 fats is the body’s ability to convert the most common Omega-6 fatty acid, linolenic acid, into another fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which is known to promote inflammation and blood clotting. But, the body also converts arachidonic acid into molecules that calm inflammation and fight blood clots.
- In 2009, nine independent researchers from around the country, including 3 from Harvard, showed data from dozens of studies supporting the cardiovascular benefits of eating Omega-6 fats.
- It turns out that the body converts very little linolenic acid into arachidonic acid. The AHA reviewers found that eating more Omega-6 fats didn't increase inflammation, but instead often reduced inflammation markers. In fact, many studies showed that rates of heart disease went down by 24% as consumption of Omega-6 fats increased as a replacement for saturated fat.
What are the best sources of Omega-6?
Opt for safflower oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, tofu, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and hemp seeds.
So let’s break down the fat.
- First thing to note is that unsaturated fats are healthy, and saturated and trans fats are usually (with some exceptions) unhealthy.
- Unsaturated fats include 1) polyunsaturated fats (omega-3’s and omega-6’s) and 2) monounsaturated fats (avocado, nuts, seeds).
- Saturated fats mostly come from animal products, while trans fats are found in processed foods and refined products.