Get Your Fats Right


Are you fat phobic? It's time to get your fats right.  

You will have noticed that fats are getting a makeover – now we are told that not all food fats are bad, while some are positively good for us. It turns out there are two special types of fat, omega 3 and omega 6, that the body absolutely needs, but cannot make.  Health will suffer if these ‘essential fats’ are missing from our food.

Good Fats Omega 3

Omega 6 is plentiful in the Irish diet. Omega 3 is the problem for most of us, and here’s why:

> The only foods that contain plenty of omega 3 are oily fish (e.g. mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines). Three portions a week covers our needs, but how many people eat that much fish?

> Minor sources are fresh green vegetables, organic milk and eggs, wild meats, and some seeds and nuts. Are these foods a big part of your diet?

> Omega 3 easily turns rancid, so in food products that do contain some (e.g. some cooking oils), it gets destroyed by refining and processing. Is most of what you eat highly processed?

What does omega 3 do for us?

Boosting omega 3 consumption often relieves problems such as dry, flaky, patchy, broken or scaly skin, soft or brittle nails, dry eyes, poor wound healing, lowered immunity, hyperactivity, dyslexia, poor concentration and memory, mild depression, migraines, fatigue, bloating, poor weight control and PMS, among many others.

The discovery that omega 3 is vital to the control of inflammation in the body has serious implications. Low-level, on-going inflammation is now recognized as a key cause of many forms of chronic illness, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis, among others.

Studies show that such conditions can often be alleviated, and sometimes reversed, with omega 3 supplementation. Moreover, patients with certain mental disorders have been shown to benefit from increased omega 3 intake.


There are two types of omega 3 in foods - fish oils and plant oils.

Omega 3 fish oils (EPA and DHA) are already powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients, because they come pre-formed for direct use in the body.

Omega 3 plant oil (ALA), by contrast, must first be converted into EPA and DHA in the body. This process is not efficient, so much more ALA is needed than EPA/DHA. Only flax (linseed) and chia seeds contain high levels of ALA.

Are you getting enough? 

> Three portions of oily fish every week will provide enough EPA and DHA for most people. Best are salmon, mackerel, herring (including kippers) and sardines. Trout, anchovies and shellfish have some omega 3, but not tinned tuna.

> Add ground 2-4 tablespoons of chia or flax seeds to your breakfast cereal, porridge, yoghurt or smoothie. Suitable for those who won’t eat fish. Grind up flax seeds in a coffee grinder.

> Eat 1-3 servings of green vegetables daily; use seeds and nuts as snacks; prefer wild, organic or pasture-fed meats (Irish lamb and beef); use organic milk and eggs. However, these wholesome foods will hardly provide sufficient omega 3 by themselves.

Udos OIl

Omega top-up

Those who feel they don’t get enough omega 3 from food can benefit by taking a ALA-rich plant oil (e.g. Flora Flax Oil or Udo’s Oil). These can be consumed as such (approx.1-3 tablespoons per day), in yoghurts or smoothies, or as a salad dressing.

Udo's Oil is available in Health Stores, Pharmacies and online.