Archive for November, 2009

Eat Fats that Give Back

Some fats are truly good for your health. Omega-3 fats are often thought of as the “fish oil” fat. This type of fat is an essential fat for life and good health. Omega-3 fats help cells send signals to each other, keep cell membranes fluid and store nutrients. These fats can also reduce high levels of triglyceride blood fats and may benefit people with diabetes by increasing the cell’s ability to accept insulin and reduce blood sugar levels.

Omega-3 fats sources are found in certain fish and plants.  Cold-water fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel have high levels of omega-3 fats.  These fish are sometimes called fatty fish.  They are available canned or as fish fillets or steaks that are quick to prepare and cook.  Animal-based types of omega-3 fats are consumed in a form that your body can use immediately.  Plant-based omega-3 fats are less efficient and must be processed before your body can use them.  Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pecans, flax or pumpkin seeds are good source of these fats.  Other plant-based foods high in omega-3 fats are dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens.  Tofu is a great source of this fat and can replace meats in many meals.  Some oils like walnut or flax seed oil are high in omega-3 fats—try these in your salad dressings.  Canola oil is high in these good fats and can be used in cooking and baking.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that healthy people eat high omega-3 fat fish twice per week and include some plant-based types to experience the health benefits of good fats.  A four ounce serving of salmon offers about 1.8 grams of omega-3 fats, so two four-ounce servings each week provides an average of 500 mg per day of these fats.

Health Status American Heart Association Recommendation
Patients with no history of coronary heart disease (CHD) Eat a variety of fatty fish at least twice a week. Include omega-3 rich plant-based foods and oils.
Patients with a history of CHD* Consume about 1 g daily of omega-3 fats (over 2 ounces of fatty fish) or consider fish oil capsules in consultation with your doctor.
Patients who need to lower triglycerides 2 to 4 grams of fish oil per day as capsules under your doctor’s care.
*A health status similar to that of people with diabetes

If you have a previous cardiac problem or a condition related to cardiac disease such as diabetes, you may choose to double   this amount of omega-3 fats to 1000 mg daily. For people with high triglycerides, the AHA recommends a higher level of   animal-based omega-3 fats—about 2-4 grams per day.  At these levels of fish oil, you may want to consult with your doctor.   But can you eat 4 servings of a 4-ounce fish each week?  This means eating a lot of fish, so plant-based omega three fats should be increased and fish oil supplements may be a good option.

However you choose to add more omega-3 fats to your diet, feel good that you are taking action to improve your overall health.  In addition to reducing heart disease risks, many studies show that fish oil may help with blood pressure, arthritis, stroke risk, depression, joint pain, asthma, dry skin and brittle hair and nails.  So, do yourself and your body a favor and eat fats that give back.


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