Good dietary sources of omega3 fat include olive oil, walnuts, kiwi fruit, black raspberries and fish. Beef and lamb that are grass-fed provide more omega-3s than those that are grain-fed. The eggs of free-range chickens provide more omega-3s, too. The content of chicken meat depends on what it they are fed.
But, of all of those sources, the only one that provides a significant amount of Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is fish. Only fatty species, such as salmon and anchovies are good sources. In other words, the dietary sources are limited.
The other foods listed in the first paragraph provide only ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. There may be some DHA or Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in those foods, but the amount is negligible.
The importance of DHA to the human body cannot really be exaggerated. It is theorized that the brains of early man developed as they did, because of the amount of fish that they ate. Researchers have proven that DHA is essential for normal brain function in infants. Because of that, most infant formulas are fortified with DHA, to more closely resemble human breast milk.
The importance of omega3 fat, in general, has to do with many things. The body needs it to create hormones, cellular membranes and neurons.
The only other types of fats that are essential in the human diet are omega-6s, but we get plenty of those. Many experts suggest that the ration of omega-6s to 3s should be between 1:1 and 4:1. In many diets, the ratio is as high as 40:1. Why? The biggest cause is corn oil.
Some years ago, we were told that animal fat was bad. We were told to trade butter for margarine and cook with vegetable oil, instead of lard.
It turns out that the real problem with lard or vegetable shortening is the trans-fatty acids they contain. Trans-fats are unnatural. They are bad for the heart and contribute to cancer. Saturated fat is bad, too.
Food labels are now required to list the amount of each type of fat that is included in the product. If you read a few labels, you will see that omega3 fat is still not listed, unless the food is fortified.
But, let me get back to corn oil for just a moment. Of all the plant-based oils, corn oil has the unhealthiest ration of omega-6s to 3s. That ratio is about 46:1.
Since people were told that corn oil and margarine made from it were better for their health than butter or other cooking oils, it became a staple of the American diet.
A lack of omega3 fat in the diet contributes to a number of health problems. Some researchers say that low intake of omega3s is a preventable cause of death.
The best and easiest ways to get more in your diet is to use only olive oil for cooking and take a good fish oil supplement every day.
Omega3 fat may not be the answer to the world’s health problems, but seems to be part of the solution.