What are Omega-3 fats and why are they so important?

What are Omega-3 fats and why are they so important?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of poly-unsaturated fats essential to us and as our body cannot make them, it is important we include them through our diet. There is a lot of research linked with how beneficial omega 3 is for the heart health.

They are many different types of omega-3 but the 3 main ones to be aware of are: –


ALA (alpha linolenic acid)

ALA is also essential for our health and should be obtained from our diet. It is mainly found in high-fat plant foods such as vegetable oils, nuts (walnuts) and seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp, and sunflower seeds). It is normally needed in large amounts which is converted to EPA and DHA in the body for it to be effective.


EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

EPA is commonly found in fatty oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. It is also found in fish oils and seafood. DHA is often found in fatty oily fish, fish oils, seafood, and algae. Studies have shown that omega-3 plays a role in cell membranes and can help reduce inflammation, including vascular inflammation.EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart.

DHA is also key in early pregnancy where it plays a role in the baby’s growth, brain development and birth weight.2 It can also help improve moods experienced by mothers during the postpartum period.3 It is recommended to consume 200mg DHA during pregnancy which can be obtained from the diet and/or supplements. DHA is vital in helping the nerves in the brain and eyes work efficiently.

The heart UK suggests EPA and DHA can help protect the heart and blood vessels by lowering triglycerides, improve circulation around the body, lower blood pressure and keep the rhythm of your heart steady.4

The recommendation is to consume at least two portions of oily fish a week, of which one portion is oily fish. If you would prefer a supplement, choose one that provides you with the same daily amount provided by eating one to two portions of fish per week (about 450mg EPA and DHA per daily adult dose). Always speak to your doctor before taking a supplement if you are on medication or have a medical condition. Supplements should be taken as part of a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153275/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-020-00886-3
  4. https://www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/omega-3-fats

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