September 2006 Edition
Healthwise: Omega 3 Fats

Although no single food can make a person healthy, eating more seafood is one way that most of us can improve our diets — and our health.  But, what does seafood contain to give it the reputation of being such a healthy food choice?

 

Many people eat seafood because it is low in calories, but it is actually the type of “fat” in fish that is beneficial to health.  That’s because fish fat is a prime source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the biggest nutrition stories around and they are an essential nutrient that many Canadians are lacking.  They are deemed essential because they cannot be made in our bodies and must be obtained through the diet or dietary supplements.

 

In recent years, scientists have discovered Omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect on the progression of heart disease, stroke, elevated blood cholesterol, diabetes and certain cancers.  Emerging research is also promising in the area of Omega-3 fatty acids and depression, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and kidney disease.

 

Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

 

With Omega-3 becoming the miracle food of the 21st century, many people are wondering where they can find it and how much they need to consume to achieve the benefits.  According to scientific research the highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids are contained in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and tuna.  But there is good news for those of you who aren’t fish lovers.  Besides fish products, you can find Omega- 3 in flax seed oil, canola oil, walnuts, dark green leafy vegetables and Omega-3 enriched eggs.

 

Another good piece of information is that a little Omega-3 goes a long way. According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, “eating broiled, baked or steamed fish two to three times a week is a good way of increasing the Omega-3 fat in your diet”.

 

As a restaurant owner, consider adding Omega-3 products to your menu.  Many health savvy consumers are already looking for these items and with today’s vast array of international flavours, it’s a great time to test out different recipes, including adding fish to pasta or creating salmon or tuna appetizers.  Omega-3 rich salads made with dark greens and tossed with walnuts are also an easy addition. One last thing to consider is promoting your Omega-3 enriched eggs on your breakfast or brunch menu.  You just might find the simple change increases your omelette orders.