What is it?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated acids commonly found in both animal and plant sources. As humans, we aren’t able to produce omega-3, which is why it’s important to incorporate these essential fats in a healthy diet. And you may have also heard of omega-6 – so what’s the difference between the two of them? Well, omega-6 is from the same family, but has different plus points such as helping you to have stronger skin.
What are the health benefits of omega-3?
We’ve outlined a variety of health benefits to help you understand how eating more omega-3 rich foods can enhance your diet:
- It contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding, omega-3 plays a part in the normal brain and eye development of the foetus and breastfed infants
- Omega-3 helps to maintain the normal function of the heart
- Omega-3 supports normal growth and the development of children
It’s well known that fish and other seafood can contain high levels of omega-3, and that it’s one of the easiest ways to up your weekly intake. Of course there’s the option of taking supplements such as cod liver oil, but Public Health England recommend that we eat at least two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily.
Getting omega-3 from whole foods is the most effective way to ensure optimal intake, and as there are so many ways to include fish in your meals, it’s a great way to improve your diet.
Examples of omega-3 in fish
- Oily fish: Contain the highest levels of omega-3, so are a great source of these essential fatty acids. Types of oily fish rich in omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
- White fish: Generally contain significantly lower levels of omega-3 compared to their oilier counterparts, but are a healthy alternative to red or processed meats plus they’re also low in fat. Pollock is another good source of omega-3.
Fish can be cooked in a variety of ways to keep mealtimes exciting, especially if you’re looking for healthy meal ideas that your children can enjoy too. Our range of omega-3 fish fingers are made with 100% fresh cod fillet with a delicious, crispy breadcrumb that’s irresistibly tasty and ideal for your Friday night fish dinner!
What about vegetarians?
Omega-3 can also be found in a variety of cooking oils, which if included as part of a healthy diet, is another effective way of adding it into your daily diet. Some oils have higher omega-3 levels than others, so if you want to make some easy diet swaps, remember that flaxseed oil is the richest source. Soybean, walnut and rapeseed (canola) oil are also good choices if you prefer to cook with these. Top tip: As an alternative to cooking with it, why not add a drizzle of flaxseed to your salad, or dip your bread into a small amount of one of the oils mentioned above instead of using butter.
Nuts and Seeds
Some nuts and seeds provide a good vegetarian source of omega-3, which can easily be added to your daily diet. Especially good sources are flaxseeds and chia seeds, and walnuts which children can also easily enjoy as a snack! These are really versatile foods, as you can enjoy them on their own as a healthy snack or include them in your home cooking. To incorporate them into your diet, why not try adding a small handful of flaxseeds and walnuts to a delicious summer super pea salad?
We all know that it’s important to eat lots of vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but very few actually provide omega-3. Vegetables providing a little omega-3 include soya beans and green leafy vegetables. Take a look at our vegetable recipe ideas for family mealtime inspiration.