Growing up in Ireland in the mid-60s the national dish every Friday was a meal that featured fish. Back then, if you didn’t eat fish on a Friday you weren’t going to heaven and of course, if you didn’t get into heaven then you might end up downstairs, and as I didn’t like the sound of that, I did what I was told and ate up my fish like a good girl. Right or wrong, the narrative instilled a great weekly habit in me and many others like me. Back then we were all much healthier, slimmer, and had nowhere near the incidences of diseases such as strokes and cancers. Take my father as an example, he was a great lover of small oily fish like mackerel, herrings, and sardines, he always maintained that the oil from fish kept his joints lubricated, he lived a long life, he was healthy until his final few months. Wasn’t he a smart man?
It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered eating oily fish had so many health benefits, it’s actually difficult to list them all in this article, but I will do my best to give you the main ones. You will be pleased to learn that eating oily fish will naturally give you beautifully soft skin, stronger nails and radiant hair, with stronger roots, something that no man made lotion or potion can compete with. So ladies, forget about that expensive facelift, just supplement with a high potency pharmaceutical Omegas-3, or try and eat purified fresh oily fish 2 or 3 times a week for optimal health and better hair, skin and nails. Doing this regularly should make you feel happier, reduced mood swings, help with focus and concentration, lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. A high potency pharmaceutical Omegas-3 can also help children with learning difficulties and behavioral problems and can also help to alleviate the symptoms of Asthma.
Remember, small oily fish contain long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), if you consume enough Omega-3 in your diet you are helping to strengthen and protect your heart. Vegans may argue that you can derive Omega-3 by eating walnuts, edible seeds, clary sage seed oil, algal oil, flaxseed oil, Sacha Inchi oil, Echium oil, and hemp oil and they are quite correct, but only in ALA form as a short-chain Omega-3 fatty acid. As humans, we can only convert short-chain Omega−3 fatty acids (ALA) to long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) with an efficiency below 5%. Meaning, if you’re looking for a plant based solution to boost your Omega-3 intake then you need to be prepared to consume copious amounts of ALA to even scratch the surface of what your body requires. In other words, stick to small oily fish if you can or consider supplementing with a high potency pharmaceutical grade Omega-3.
As well as fish, it is very important to eat a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts, and pulses. You may have noticed that most of these five food groups are rich in essential fatty acids (Omega-3) that are required for the brain and nervous system. In the 1960s, researchers identified five fat essential nutrients that are essential for the brain and nervous system. Your body require two essential fatty acids to function, they are Alpha-Linolenic Acid (Omega-3) & Linoleic Acid (Omega-6). You are very likely to be receiving an abundance of Omega-6 fats in your diet already and should consider raising your intake of of Omega-3 to balance your inflammation system. Omega-3 comes in three variants, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).
The Omega-3 fatty acid is commonly found in small oily fish and crustaceans, like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, shrimps, and lobster. Omega 6 fatty acid on the other hand is be found in beef, pork, lamb, egg yolk, soybean oil, peanuts, and dairy products. The optimal ratio of Omega-3’s to Omega-6’s is about 1:2. Unfortunately due to the excess amount of Omega-6’s fats present in many processed foods, you are consuming 5 to 10 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3 and this is something you must consider changing sooner rather than later. If not, you run the risk of developing inflammatory related diseases earlier in later life.
After reading above, you may be wondering why manufacturers don’t add more Omega-3 and less Omega-6 to our foods. The simple matter is it’s primarily down to cost and taste. In simple terms, the healthier the fat the quicker it spoils, supermarkets prefer products with a long shelf life, just think how quickly oily fish turns rancid or how quickly an avocado turns brown once cut. In relation to taste, well the Western palate prefers the taste of animal and vegetable fat in as opposed to fats originating from fish. Could you really see the day you would choose a fish based spread for your toast in the morning?
Now let’s talk about fats, once upon a time, you were told if we wanted to lose weight you had to give up fat. Oh my goodness what a dreadful suggestion that was. Keeping away from unhealthy fats, YES, but eliminating fat from your diet altogether? It’s simply not possible as your body needs the right amount of the good fat to function. Also be careful when you see foods/meals marketed as low fat or reduced fat, as often fat is replaced with refined sugar. Try if you can to read food labels and choose monounsaturated or poly-unsaturated fats where possible. So how can you make a quick visual distinction between a saturated fat versus an un-saturated fat? Well that’s easy, if a fat is solid at room temperature, then it’s saturated, if it pours then it’s unsaturated, it’s just that simple.
You find unhealthy fats (saturated fats) in the following foods:
Steak with fat
Whole milk and cheese
Cakes, cookies, and snacks
You find healthy fats (unsaturated fats) in the following foods:
Salmon, trout, herrings, tuna, and mackerel
Walnuts, almonds, cashews
Olive and Peanut Oils
It’s not easy giving up the foods you love, by making a few small changes to your diet you will see a difference in your weight, skin, and energy levels. To reduce the number of saturated fats you eat, choose lean options of dairy, meat, and poultry (no skin) low fat milk instead of whole, lean beef instead of fatty steak, skinless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. Cook food with olive oil instead of vegetable oil butter, and have fruit instead of ice cream for dessert or start doing half and half and ween off the hard stuff slowly.
To summarize eating too many foods high in saturated fats is bad for your health, But by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, you should lower your risk of developing heart disease. Increasing the amount of Omega-3 in your diet should also enhance your mood, improve focus and concentration & increase your energy levels too.