Get More “Good” Fat in Your Diet
*[Image Goes Here]* Ever heard of “functional fat”? Believe it or not, there is actually a type of fat you should be eating more of. Specifically, I’m talking about Omega-3 fats. This type of fat is essential in our diet because our body cannot make it. The good news is Omega-3 fats are helpful in preventing and treating disease making them “functional” in our diet.
There are actually two types of Omega-3’s: marine origin and plant origin.
Marine origin Omega-3 fats include those that come from fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and lake trout. Marine sources of Omega-3’s have been shown to decrease triglycerides and decrease blood clot formation, factors that when elevated increase the risk for heart disease or stroke. Fish is a healthy alternative to some other meats which may be higher in saturated fat.
Plant sources of Omega-3 fats include flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, walnuts, and some dark coloured vegetables. Plant sources of Omega-3’s have been shown to decrease total LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease the buildup of fatty plaques in arteries that can lead to heart disease or stroke. Flaxseed also contains phytoestrogens called lignans that may have beneficial effects in preventing some cancers. More importantly flaxseed is an excellent source of dietary fibre, something all Canadians should be getting more of in their diet.
An alternative source of Omega-3 fats is the Omega-3 Eggs. These eggs came from hens that were fed a special diet containing flaxseed. Keep in mind however that the total fat and cholesterol content of Omega-3 eggs is similar to regular eggs. If you have high cholesterol, you should not be eating a lot of whole eggs every week. Of course these egg producers created an option for those of you with high cholesterol. Look for the Omega Pro liquid eggs in your grocery store that contain 80% less cholesterol and 50% less fat and calories than regular eggs.
Dietitians recommend Canadians get a variety of both marine and plant origin Omega-3 fats in their diet. If you have heart disease and/or elevated cholesterol levels you may want to pay more attention to how much Omega-3’s you are getting in your diet. Specifically, try eating fish 2-3 times per week and adding 1-2 tbsp of flaxseed to your diet each day. Also, start using canola oil, walnuts or flax-based eggs in your diet more often.
Now for those of you who won’t eat fish (and I know there is a lot of you), keep in mind the following: it is important that you consult a Medical Doctor before taking fish oil supplements. In fact anybody taking more than 3 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids from supplements per day should do so only under a Medical Doctor’s care. High intakes of fish oil supplements could cause excessive bleeding in some people. *[Image Goes Here]*
Here are some interesting points about flaxseed:
As always it is important that everyone eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and try to get your functional foods from food, not supplements. Other components of food, such as specific vitamins and minerals help functional foods provide their beneficial effects. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease it is important that you speak with a – Registered Dietitian or Medical Doctor before significantly altering your diet.
For more information on Omega-3 fats, heart disease and foods containing Omega-3’s check out the following websites. www.americanheart.org, www.flaxcouncil.ca, www.burnbraefarms.com.
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