What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Not all fat deserves a bad reputation. In fact, some types of fat are vital for your health and wellbeing.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning it must be obtained from food because the body can’t manufacture it.

The richest dietary source of omega-3 fat comes from cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, but it can be found to a lesser extent in all fish and seafood.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important building block of every cell in the human body, and are especially important for heart health, reproduction, cognitive function and circulation.

How do omega-3 fatty acids affect weight?

When prepared in a healthy manner, fish and seafood is a lean source of protein and can be a tasty, low kilojoule addition to any weight loss eating plan.

There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood may help to boost weight loss, or more specifically fat loss.

One recent study reported in the British Journal of Nutrition found that increased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower incidence of obesity.

The researchers found that overweight and obese people had blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids almost 1 per cent lower than people with a healthy weight. Increased omega-3 levels were associated with a healthier BMI, a smaller waist, and a lower hip size.

Additional research found that including fish or fish oil supplements as part of a low kilojoule diet resulted in 1 kilogram more weight loss after 4 weeks than a similar diet without seafood or omega-3 supplements.

In other words, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood have unique, weight reducing properties, and not just because it’s a low kilojoule food. The researchers believe that omega-3 fatty acids may aid weight management by increasing the feeling of fullness after a meal (reducing hunger hormones) and by boosting heat production (boosting your metabolism).

The omega-3 fat content of fish and seafood

Source Omega 3 content (mg) Serving size
Sardines (canned) 2800 100 grams
Swordfish 1060 100 grams
Fsh oil capsule (average) 1000 1 tablet
Atlantic salmon 650 100 grams
Salmon (canned) 500 100 grams
Gemfish 441 100 grams
Spanish Mackerel 411 100 grams
Rainbow trout 309 100 grams
Blue eyed cod 300 100 grams
Snapper 220 100 grams
Tuna (canned) 177 100 grams
Oysters 150 100 grams
Bream 146 100 grams
Prawns 120 100 grams
Tuna 117 100 grams
Barramundi 110 100 grams
Lobster 105 100 grams

What if you don’t eat fish and seafood?

Because some people don’t eat fish or seafood, or don’t eat enough to obtain sufficient amounts of essential fats from their diet, omega-3 fats are now being added to other foods in an effort to boost consumption.

For example, omega-3 enriched eggs, yoghurts and breads are available in most supermarkets. Supplements that provide a concentrated source of omage-3 fatty acids are also widely available.

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