The Omega 3 fashion

Nutrition tends to go in trends and one of the nutrients that is getting a lot of attention at present is Omega 3 fatty acids.

There have even been headlines in the newspapers about adding them to children's diets to help with their ability to learn. Also, there are all manner of supplements which now contain them.

While oily fish like salmon and pilchards are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids there is a small amount in lean red meat with liver containing a greater amount.

Fats are an essential part of the diet. There are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat is linked with coronary heart disease. The unsaturated fats consist of mono-unsaturates and poly-unsaturates. The latter group contains certain essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 fatty acids. As they are essential, it means they have to be supplied in the diet and cannot be made by the body.

Without going too deeply into the chemistry, the difference between the saturated and unsaturated fats is the way the atoms that make them up are joined together.

In saturated fats there are what are called single bonds and, in un-saturated, one or more double bonds are present.

The correct name for Omega 3 fatty acids is alpha linolenic acids. They are also called n-3 fatty acids due to the position of the double bond in it.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the brain tissues - hence the interest for children as regards behaviour and learning ability. They are helpful for promoting heart health as well as helping inflammation and so are used in helping those with rheumatoid arthritis.

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