Importance of Omega 3 Fats
It is important not to eliminate fats from your diet as fats are essential for many functions in the body including: providing energy and transporting vitamins. Some believe if you eat fat you will become fat. Additional calories on top of the recommended calorie intake will cause weight gain if you consume a greater amount of calories than you burn. As fat contains twice the amount of calories compared to carbohydrate and proteins, there is an increased likelihood of consuming significantly more calories due to the density of fat. In addition to this, if activity levels are low this will also cause weight gain to occur. Therefore it is essential that there is a balance between nutrients found in the diet and daily physical activity levels.
Omega 3 fats which are essential fats needed by the body and must be obtained from the diet. These fats are important for improving physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing and should be consumed regularly to promote, not only optimum health for the body but also optimum health for the mind. Omega 3 fats also play an important role after physical activity as they help with the recovery process by reducing fatigue and inflammation, indicating that it is important that omega 3 fats are included in the recovery foods.
Sources of Omega 3 Fats:
For those who eat foods of animal origin oily fish such as; mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna are excellent sources of omega 3 fats and are versatile for both hot and cold dishes. It is recommended to consume at least 2 portions of oily fish per week and include other sources of omega 3 fats as part of a well-balanced diet. Vegetarians who practice a diet that does not include fish need alternative foods that provide omega 3 fats these include: seeds and nuts. Linseeds and pumpkin seeds can be sprinkled on porridge or added to homemade flapjacks, pumpkin seeds can also be eaten as healthy snack. Linseed and pumpkin seeded breads can be purchased in most supermarkets which are other options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Walnuts also contain omega 3fats and can be eaten as a snack or added to salads to give salads crunch and added texture. To ensure that a healthy portion size is being considered, measure a teaspoon of linseeds or pumpkin seeds or 8-10 walnut halves all of which count as one portion.
However, if there is an imbalance of omega 3 fats in the body due to insufficient omega 3 fats in the diet, this can result in certain deficiencies for example; pre-menstrual syndrome, depression, mood swings, chronic fatigue, dry or rough skin.
Omega 3 Fats and Mental Wellbeing:
The brain relies on fats for good cognitive functioning for example: concentration, memory, mood and alertness, thus by consuming omega 3 fats as part of a balanced diet will improve all of these. There have been many studies which have concluded that omega 3 fats reduce the levels of depression by improving mood and can promoting positive mental wellbeing. Consuming a variety of foods rich in omega 3 fats and following an active lifestyle will enhance your mental state and provide a positive outlook on life.
There are many health benefits in consuming foods containing omega 3 fats such as; the cholesterol lowering effect, lowering blood pressure, improved moods, reducing symptoms of depression and other cognitive related disorders. Therefore, by following a diet rich in omega 3 fats combined with regular exercise will promote a healthy heart and circulatory system (omega 3 fats reduce the risk of heart disease) and will assist in improving your mental well being.
After exercise the muscles become inflamed due to the intense muscle contraction endured, however by consuming foods such as a tuna or mackerel salad post exercise, will help to reduce the inflammation and the levels of fatigue in the muscles to aid the recovery process. For all food sources containing omega 3 fats mentioned earlier, these foods also have a high protein content which will help to repair natural tissue damage caused during exercise providing a dual effect. For those who avoid fish in their diet, eating a handful of walnuts or consuming a low fat cheese sandwich made with seeded bread will cause the same effect.