You've probably heard the term, Omega-3, but what exactly are they?

Imagine your body as a race car. Omega-3s are the high-octane fuel that keeps it running smoothly, contributing to everything from a healthy heart to a sharp mind. Think of fats as the building blocks of your body. Omega-3s are a specific type of "good" fat, essential for your health. When we talk about some of the omega type fatty acids, your body can't produce them on its own, so you need to get them from your diet.

Let’s dive into the cold waters and meet with Omega fatty acids.

Arctic people’s secret diet

Scientists first discovered Omega-3s in the 1920s while studying the Inuit diet. These Arctic people, known for their robust health, consumed a diet rich in fatty fish. This led researchers to discover omega-3s, the secret ingredient behind their well-being.

Why are Omega-3s so important?

These essential fats are like superheroes for your body, battling against various health concerns. They can:

Boost heart health: Omega-3s help lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and keep your blood vessels flexible, minimizing the risk of heart disease.

Sharpen your mind: They are crucial for brain development and function, aiding in memory, learning, and preventing cognitive decline.

Fight inflammation: Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases like arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

Build a strong body: They are vital for healthy cell growth and development, supporting your muscles, joints, and bones.

Insights of the Omega: How many Omega fatty oil acids are there and what is difference of them?

Basically, we can divide the Omega fatty acids into the three section. They are omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.

Omega-3’s are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Alpha linoleic acid (ALA)’s. EPA’s supports heart health, reduces inflammation, DHA’s are crucial for brain development and function, supports cognitive health. ALA’s are the plant based omega fatty acids and they should convert to EPA or DPA at the body for use.

The most important differences all of them, EPA and DPA is, ready for use but ALA needs a conversation and ALA’s absorbation is less than EPA and DPA.

Omega-6’s are mostly comes from plant based foods. Linoleic Acid (LA) and Arachidonic acid (AA) are the most important ones. LA is a essential fatty acid, used for energy production. AA is involved inflammation and immune functions.

The last invisible and unnoticeable omega variety is omega-9. This is even comes from plant based sources and the main type is Oleic Acid (OA). This is the primary fatty acid in olive oil. Body can produce this type of omega and mostly, don’t need to get it from an external source.

Relationships between red meat and omega-3 fatty acid

Red meat, such as beef, lamb or even pork has been a staple in human diets for centuries. They are good source of protein, iron, and other nutrients, its relationship with omega-3 fatty acids is complex and often misunderstood.

Do red meat contain omega-3 fatty acids? Yes, red meat does contain some omega-3 fatty acids, although not as much as other dietary sources like fatty fish. The type and amount of omega-3s in red meat depend on several factors.

Animal's diet: Grass-fed animals have significantly higher levels of omega-3s than grain-fed animals. This is because grass is naturally rich in omega-3 precursors like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the animals convert to other beneficial forms.

Cut of meat: Leaner cuts tend to have less fat and therefore less omega-3s compared to fattier cuts.

Cooking method: High-heat cooking methods can destroy omega-3s, so it's important to use gentler methods like baking, grilling, or poaching.

Why is red meat's omega-3 not good?

While red meat does contain some omega-3s, it is not considered a good source for several reasons. Most important of them are related with amount of it, different type of fat’s amount and conversion efficiency.

Compared to fatty fish, red meat contains significantly lower amounts of omega-3s, particularly the important EPA and DHA forms. Red meat is also high in saturated fat, which has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and other health problems. The human body is not very efficient at converting ALA, the primary omega-3 found in red meat, to the more beneficial EPA and DHA forms. For these reason,  red meat should not be though consider as a primary source of omega-3s.

Where to find these fishy friends, Krill?

Seafood is the ultimate source of omega-3s, with fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring topping the list. But don't worry, vegetarians and vegans haven't been forgotten! Plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 that your body can convert to the other beneficial forms.

The Seafood Smackdown: Salmon vs. Krill

While all seafood provides omega-3s, some pack a bigger punch than others. Salmon is a popular choice, offering a good dose of EPA and DHA, the two essential omega-3s. Krill oil, derived from tiny shrimp-like creatures, is another option, known for its high concentration of EPA and DHA, which are easier for your body to absorb. Finally, shrimps are a lower-fat seafood option, offering a moderate amount of omega-3s.

Insights of the Krill

Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans that play a crucial role in the marine food chain. These tiny creatures, measuring around 1-6 cm long, are found in all the world's oceans, but are most abundant in the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Southern Ocean.

Habitat: Krill spend most of their lives in the open ocean, migrating vertically. They typically stay in deeper waters during the day and rise to the surface at night to feed on phytoplankton, microscopic algae.

Social behavior: Krill form massive swarms, with densities that can reach thousands of individuals per cubic meter. These swarms provide protection from predators and improve their ability to find food. Krill can live for up to 6 years, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Who is fed by Kril?

Fish are the primary predators of krill, including whales, penguins, seals, and seabirds. These animals rely on krill as a vital source of food, making krill a keystone species in marine ecosystems.

Krill are filter feeders, meaning they strain plankton out of the water using comb-like appendages on their legs. They use their swimming legs to create a current of water, which flows through their body and filters out the plankton.

Using Omega-3 as a food supplement

A balanced diet rich in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines is the best way to ensure you're getting enough omega-3s. However, for individuals who don't regularly consume these foods or have specific health conditions, omega-3 supplements may be a beneficial option.

Choosing the right omega-3 supplement can be overwhelming with so many options available. Let’s check some key features about it.

Most common and widely available source of omega-3 comes from fatty fish. Choose supplements made from wild-caught fish from cold, clean waters to avoid contaminants. This content may come from algae too and it’s rising in vegetarian or full-veggie diet models. 

Supplement’s source is important, also the purity of content too. It must not contain any free contaminants like mercury, PCB or anything else. Third party certification is a distinguishing thing. Please check which organization has given the certificate to the producer.

When you are ready to use omega-3 as food supplement,always consult with your healthcare professional before starting. They can help you determine the right type and dosage for your individual needs and advise on any potential interactions with medications you may be taking.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your health, playing a vital role in various bodily functions. By incorporating seafood and other omega-3-rich foods into your diet, you can give your body the fuel it needs to thrive.