Good Fat

Fat. Despite the bad rep it gets for adding inches to our waistline and bringing along a myriad of health problems, our body still requires fat as a source of energy, to absorb nutrients as well as to protect our vital organs.

The key difference is the type of fat we’re consuming. All the negative health consequences that fat has been blamed for are partly due to consumption of “bad” fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, which are commonly found in deep fried foods, processed foods and confectionary.

In contrast, “good” fats such as unsaturated fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids, have the opposite effect.

With so many types of fats to learn about, Omega-3 fatty acids probably need no further introduction, so let’s start off with a better understanding of omega-3s!

What are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are a form of unsaturated fatty acid which can be broken down into different types, mainly: Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).

The main difference between these types of Omega-3? ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola oils, while EPA and DHA are found in fish, algae and seafood. 

While the human body can convert some ALA into EPA and then DHA, the small amounts produced calls for recommendations to obtain EPA and DHA directly from foods.

Benefits of Omega-3

- Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart against diseases by:

1.     Lowering triglyceride levels in the blood.

2.     Lowering blood pressure in patients.

3.     Preventing harmful blood clots from forming, thus reducing risk of stroke and heart attack.

4.     Preventing plaque formation which harden the arteries and restrict blood flow. 

- Eye Health

DHA is a major structural component of the retina of the eyes. Getting enough omega-3 reduces risk of macular degeneration, a condition which can cause permanent eye damage and blindness.

- Brain Health

Omega-3s are vital for brain health throughout the lifespan – whether during birth or at old age. Omega-3s ensure proper growth and development in infants. Furthermore, sufficient omega-3 intake during pregnancy is linked to reduced risk of development delay, higher intelligence and fewer behavioral problems in the child.

At the same time, studies have found that higher omega-3 intake decreases age-related mental decline and reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly.

- Anti-inflammatory

Long term inflammation in the body negatively impacts the tissues and organs, and may play a role in the onset of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and asthma. Consistent studies have shown that Omega-3s reduce the production of substances that are linked to inflammation in the body.


How much Omega-3 do I need daily?

Our Omega-3 requirements vary considerably depending on our age, sex, lifestyle and health status, with higher intake required for people with underlying health condition.

The National Institute of Health currently recommends 1.6g of ALA for males and 1.1g for females while there are currently no specific recommendations for EPA and DHA. However, the American Heart Association recommends an intake of combined EPA and DHA at 1.0g daily for patients with cardiovascular disease.   

Hence, to ensure optimal intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, it is important to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, sardine and salmon for EPA and DHA, as well as plant-based omega-3 sources including flaxseed, walnuts, sacha inchi and their oils for ALA.

Handy tips to ensure adequate omega-3 intake from foods:

·       Aim for a serving of fatty fish (mackerel, seabass, sardines) at least twice a week.

·       Snack on plant based sources such as seaweed, edamame, walnuts.

·       Incorporate 2 tablespoons of omega-3 rich oils such as flaxseed oil or sacha inchi oil to salads or as part of your daily morning drink.

However, Omega-3s aren’t the only important “good fats”.  Keep reading to learn more.


Nutritionist Zuanne
Anna Hoo Clinic


1.     Calder, P. C. (2010). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Nutrients2(3), 355-374.

2.     Kris-Etherton, P. M., Harris, W. S., & Appel, L. J. (2003). Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: new recommendations from the American Heart Association. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology23(2), 151-152.