OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID: FISH OIL AND HEALTHY HEART
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish. This reminds me of the delicious fish meal I ate yesterday which got me seriously thinking how lucky my wife is to have such amazing cooking skills. They call this type of fish in Arabic samak al saalimun (salmon) in the market where I bought it fresh. It was really one of the best dinners I have had in ages even my taste buds seemed brand new. I don’t know maybe it was the spices she bought at Mandarin store a few days ago or could be some Maggi someone brought us from Nigeria. Whatever it was, I had a great time with fish yesterday. And I wish you were here too at least you can better understand what I’m saying.
However, while savoring the last piece of the meal a thought came into my mind and I wonder what health benefit do you gain from eating fish? Well, it’s worth finding out. Let’s go:
Fats and oils
Fats and oils are part of the food you eat every day. The main groups of nutrients in your food include carbohydrates (starch or sugars), protein and fat. However, a balanced diet may contain only a small amount of fat together with the other two groups.
Fats and oils are chemically the same in their basic structure only a few modification that make oil liquid and fat solid at room temperature.
Fat is made up of fatty acids. These fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) are grouped into saturated and unsaturated based on their chemical structure. When the fat contains more of the saturated fatty acids then it is known as saturated fat and when it contains more of the unsaturated it is known as unsaturated fat. Our bodies produce some fatty acids but cannot make some. The fatty acids which your body can not make are called essential fatty acids and you need to eat these from your food.
Fats provide you with high amount of energy. One gram of fat provides 9 kilo-calories of energy, but the same amount of carbohydrate or protein gives you only 4 kilo-calories. When the fat you eat is not needed for production of energy your body coverts and stores it as body fat. Fat also helps your body to absorb vitamins A, D and E.
You should eat more of the unsaturated fat than saturated if you want to remain healthy.
Example of foods that contain high amount of saturated fat include:
- Animal meat containing fat (beef, lamb and others).
- Ice cream
- Pop corns
- Palm oil
- Coconut oil and coconut cream.
Health Effects of Saturated Fats
When the amount of saturated fat is high in your body the level of cholesterol in your blood increase. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Some forms of proteins in your blood known as lipoproteins are responsible for the transportation of cholesterol. There are different types of lipoproteins and these include the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). When you have more of the LDL in your body then you have high risk of heart disease. But high level of HDL means you have less risk of heart disease. HDL carries cholesterol from parts of your body to the liver and it is then cleared out of your system.
Example of foods with higher amount of unsaturated fatty acids include:
- Olive oil
- Corn oil
- Sunflower oil
- Fatty fish (Omega-3 fatty acids): Mackerel fish; Salmon fish; Sardines.
Health Benefits of Unsaturated Fats
Eating unsaturated fats lowers cholesterol in your body decreasing your risk of heart disease. You should therefore use fats (oils) with high amount of unsaturated fats daily.
Also, you should not re-use oil that you heat to a very high temperature such as during deep frying. This is because the unsaturated fat change to another form which can harm you. After using oil for deep frying, you should allow it to cool off completely then carefully throw it away.
Remember that oils are sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Therefore, you should store oil in a dark, cool and dry area. You should not keep oil in the refrigerator and you must keep the container tightly closed after use.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in fish oil. They are classed as poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Scholars have confirmed that these fatty acids protect your heart and brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension and high cholesterol in blood. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids also include protection against asthma, bronchitis and allergies as well as liver disease. Eating fish when you are pregnant and giving fish to your child could protect you all from allergies.
So, find your fish right away.
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