Fat gets a bad rap, but once you understand fats and use them appropriately, they can be invaluable tools for your health. It is true that not all fats are created equal, therefore it’s important to know the difference so that you can make fat your friend.
There are two major types of dietary fat: unsaturated and saturated. The two types of fats differ by chemical structure and they can be further broken down into subgroups. To keep it simple, lets focus on healthy fats.
A “healthy fat” usually refers to unsaturated fat. Within unsaturated fat you will find the much talked about Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and Omega-9s. The omega numbers simply reference where within the carbon chain the first double bond occurs. It may seem like a small difference, but it is important to understand the distinction.
Omega-3s are essential fats, meaning that our body cannot produce them, and we must obtain them from our diet. They can be in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) , which is found in vegetable oils and nuts, or in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The best Omega-3 sources are marine oils derived from marine algae and fatty fish.
The majority of the health benefits that stem from Omega-3s come from EPA and DHA. DHA plays a primary role in brain and eye development, and ensuring that desired amounts are met may reduce risk of age related eye degeneration and age related decay of brain mass and function. Adequate Omega-3 intake has also been demonstrated to promote brain function in youth and attenuate brain tissue damage from injury.*
Omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in many types of vegetable and cooking oils, work with Omega-3s to provide many of the health benefits listed above. Unfortunately, in today’s world of fast food and prepackaged meals, it is more common for people to have a much higher intake of Omega-6s than Omega-3s. This can create a pro inflammatory state which may contribute to disease. The recommended ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 is 4:1 while the majority of the western world comes in at a ratio of 16:1. The best way to improve this ratio is to increase intake of Omega-3s. Omega-9 fatty acids, although still important, are not essential and the body can make them as long as there is enough Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake. *
Brain Armor believes in food first. The American Dietetic Association recommends a minimum Omega-3 intake of 500mg/day. This can prove challenging. Studies show that 95.7% of Americans and nearly 99% of student athletes are falling short of this goal. Unless you consume marine fish 2-3 times a week, supplements are a good option. Brain Armor Super Omega-3+ supplements contain DHA and EPA in age appropriate amounts and are derived from vegan friendly marine algae sources. Brain Armor goes a step further and adds other brain protecting nutrients such as Vitamin D & E, and Medium Chain Triglyceride Oils. You can get your healthy fats in a tasty naturally flavored mango-lime liquid concentrate, or a convenient gel capsule. Start making fat your friend and improve your health.*
Stacy Cappadona MS, RD, CSCS received her BS in Exercise Science and MS in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition from Florida State University. She has worked with athletes of all ages, active duty military personnel, and is now serving the communities in Southern Oregon at an all inclusive Wellness Club.