There is a nasty word out there in the weight loss world, and it’s “fat.” Everyone is trying to lose weight, to lose “fat.” All the diet foods are labeled “fat free” to be appealing to dieters, even if they are laden with sugar. When people see an overweight person they say, “Oh man, look at that fat person.”
But fat is not just a bad word. In fact, there is an entire family of fats that are beloved by healthcare professionals because they are healthy for you. In fact, these fats are not only healthy, they are essential for your body. They are known as omega-3s, or omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are the good-for-you unsaturated fatty acids comprised of the polyunsaturated trio of a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
While the omega-3 fatty acids are the big buzz word of today where healthy living and weight loss are concerned, they were actually discovered way back in the 1930s. During that decade it was found that these polyunsaturated fats were necessary for normal human growth to occur.
In the 1970s researchers studied the diets of the Eskimos of Greenland and discovered that two of the three omegas (DHA and EPA) were essential to heart health. The Eskimos were consuming large doses of these fatty acids through their seafood-rich diet. Moreover, they showed almost no signs of cardiovascular disease. That’s because these omega-3 fatty acids naturally reduce triglycerides and arterial plaque while reducing heart rate and maintaining healthy blood pressure. What an amazing family of fats.
Now where most supplements have to add the tag line “these claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” two of the three omegas HAVE been evaluated. In fact, EPA and DHA have both been awarded “qualified health claim” status by the FDA.
Here’s the statement from the FDA:
“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA [n−3] fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
The Canadian Government has done additional research and has publicly stated: “DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, supports the normal development of the brain, eyes and nerves.”
As one might guess, with the rise in popularity of the omega-3 fatty acids, advertisers are producing supplements and adding it to foods or just prominently labeling those foods that already have these good fats in them. A diet high in fish is all that is needed. But for those of you who either don’t enjoy fish or who want more omega-3s in your diet, the highest doses can be found in krill oil, fish oil and flaxseed oil supplements.
No matter how you look at these omega fats, they are good for you and essential for health. Who said all fat was bad?
—Dr. Mark Wiley