There are three types of fat in our diet: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are called non-essential fats, as our bodies can make these. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats that we need to obtain from our diets – the two types are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Good sources of omega-3 are:
- Ground flaxseeds (linseeds) – 1-2 tbsp a day should supply your needs
- Chia seeds – 2 tsp
- Walnuts (4 halves) and walnut oil – 1 tbsp
- Canola oil is richer in omega 3 fatty acids than other neutral-tasting oils so use this when you need a plain oil. Otherwise extra virgin olive oil is recommended for its other nutritional properties.
Fats that are higher in omega-6 fatty acids are obtained from:
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Soya oil
There has been much discussion and debate about the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats we should aim for, with some confusing advice following. The clearest, most recent advice comes from Harvard:
“Most Americans eat more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, on average about 10 times more. A low intake of omega-3 fats is not good for cardiovascular health, so bringing the two into better balance is a good idea. But don’t do this by cutting back on healthy omega-6 fats. Instead, add some extra omega-3s.”
Easy omega cheats:
- Flaxseeds are great in smoothies, over muesli or cereal, and can be used in place of eggs in baking
- Add walnuts, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to plant-based yoghurts or muesli
- Walnuts are great in salads!
Check out this tasty chia seed pudding recipe.
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PAGE UPDATED MAY 2020