We’re always hearing how we should eat less fat-cut the fat here, get the lean cut, buy the non-fat version. Most of the time, this is great information. The problem, however, is that cutting out the wrong fats can do more harm than good.
A study by Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a lack of omega-3 fat in a person’s diet can have devastating health effects. In fact, the results were so profound that they are really quite surprising. The researchers found that 72,000â€“96,000 deaths could’ve been prevented if Americans consumed more of these “good fats.” Just how many deaths is that? Well, it’s enough to put omega-3 deficiency as America’s sixth-largest killer.
In fact, omega-3 deficiency is an even greater killer than excess trans-fat (bad fats) intake, according to the study. What this study reinforces is that your diet is extremely important when it comes to overall health and longevity; and as a country, the United States isn’t doing very well.
So what are omega-3 fats? They are healthy fats that are found in various oils, nuts, fish, some fruits, and supplements. They are typically oily; so at first sight, they may appear unhealthy, but the makeup of these fats can do great things for the human body. They help control insulin levels, fight against cardiovascular disease, regulate cholesterol levels, and relieve joint pain and other inflammation, while providing a number of other positive effects.
Omega-3 fats, namely EPA and DHA, are found in the following places:
- Oils: Olive oil, fish oil, kelp oil, and coconut oil all offer healthy servings of omega-3 fat
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, and most other unprocessed raw seeds and nuts can give you the healthy fats you need
- Fish: Tuna, salmon, halibut, cod, and other fish are all great natural sources of omega-3
- Supplements: These are available from a variety of manufacturers and can be purchased online or at specialty retailers, pharmacies, and natural food stores
Because it can be difficult to get your omega-3s from natural sources all the time, it’s recommended you purchase a supplement if needed.
One of the fears many people have about eating the aforementioned foods is that they are very dense in terms of calories. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil is roughly 120 calories, and you’re still not getting a great serving of omega-3. A tablespoon of olive oil only possesses about 1.5 grams of the healthy fat, so other sources are needed. Even though these fat sources are high in calories, it’s important to remember that these are good calories: they are not empty calories, and they do good things for your body. For example, it’s much better to eat 250 calories of omega-3-rich foods than it is to eat 250 calories worth of candy or French fries.
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