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What are the benefits of Omega 3 and fish oil?

Pan roasted salmon and vegetables
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A healthy, balanced diet should include oily fish and other foods rich in Omega 3s. This is because Omega 3s are an essential nutrient associated with good health, which can’t always be made within the body.

What is Omega 3?

Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats found in oily fish that have essential health benefits for the human body.

Because some types cannot be made in the body, the best way to maintain healthy levels of Omega 3s is to eat a diet rich in oily fish, seeds, nuts and pulses. You can also get more Omega 3 by taking daily supplements, which are available in high street pharmacies and health food shops. Please bear in mind that you should not take supplements as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is fat extracted from fish tissue. It is usually taken from oily fish such as herring and tuna – one popular exception is cod liver oil, which is extracted from the liver of a cod (a type of white rather than oily fish).

Fish oil is a popular dietary supplement that contains lots of essential nutrients, including Omega 3s.

What are the benefits of Omega 3 and fish oil?

Recently, there has been some debate in the medical community about how effective Omega 3s are as a treatment for medical conditions such as heart disease. Though the NHS no longer routinely prescribe Omega 3s, regular consumption is still recommended for patients with certain conditions, usually in the form of oily fish.  

Research suggests that fish oils can:

Fish oil, which contains high level of Omega 3s, has the added benefit of containing vitamins A and D. Vitamin A, or retinol, helps to maintain the immune system and good vision, while vitamin D helps to maintain good bone health.

In countries where oily fish is a staple of the diet (e.g. the Mediterranean, Japan), rates of heart disease are traditionally much lower. However, it’s not clear whether this is related to additional components of the diet, cultural or lifestyle choices, or other situational circumstances. For instance, a diet incorporating more oily fish may naturally contain less red and processed meat.

Sources of Omega 3

If you eat fish and you consume a healthy, balanced diet there’s already a good chance that you’re consuming all the nutrients (including Omega 3s) that you need. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are some specific Omega 3-rich plants, nuts and seeds you can incorporate into your diet.

Foods containing Omega 3

Oily fish is the best source of Omega 3s. This is why the NHS recommends that a healthy, balanced diet includes two servings of fish each week, one of which is oily fish.

Some oily fish include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Mackerel

Shellfish such as mussels and oysters are another excellent source of Omega 3s.

Additionally, Omega 3s can be found in the following foods, which are suitable for vegans and vegetarians:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Seaweed and spirulina
  • Walnuts
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans

Omega 3 supplements

If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough Omega 3s in your diet, you can take supplements. Make sure to always read the label and speak to your doctor or a pharmacist for advice.

Most Omega 3 supplements, such as Nu U Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules, are made from fish oil, which means they contain other essential nutrients such as vitamin D. Vegan and vegetarian alternatives are available for people who don’t eat fish.

You should not take supplements as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle.

References

www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/
www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/omega-3-fats
www.bda.uk.com/resource/omega-3.html
www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/fish-and-shellfish-nutrition/
www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323144#vegetarian-and-vegan-sources-of-omega-3
www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg181/ifp/chapter/Making-changes-to-your-lifestyle
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a/
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445114/