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Omega 3

Omega 3

We need certain fats in our diet and these are called essential fats. Without them, many processes in our bodies would cease to function. As a result, our eye health also may also be affected. These 'essential fatty acids' as they are known (EFA's) are the components of fat. We cannot make them, so we must eat the right foods to obtain them from our diet.

They are crucial for cells, muscles, nerves and organs to work optimally. They are also needed to help regulate blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting.

There are two types of EFAs - omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, may be good for eye health.

Omega-3 fatty acids include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

How do Omega-3 Fatty Acids help the eyes?

Many ophthalmologists recommend a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of eye problems. Several studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may help protect the eyes from various forms of degeneration.

Omega 3 (DHA, EPA and ALA) has also been approved by the European Food Standards Agency for various claims:
  • DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision
  • DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function
  • DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants
  • DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure
  • DHA and EPA contribute to the normal function of the heart
  • ALA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels

How can I eat more Omega 3?

Try to eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fewer that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish, which are high in both DHA and EPA. Examples include sardines, herring, salmon and tuna. Wild fish is better than "farmed" fish, due to lower levels of pollutants and chemicals.

If you dislike fish, two of our Viteyes supplements contain fish oils. These are available as capsules, and have no fishy aftertaste.

Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. However, we cannot metabolise the ALA omega-3 fatty acids from these vegetarian sources as easily as the DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

To reduce your intake of omega-6s, avoid fried and highly processed foods. Many cooking oils, including sunflower oil and corn oil, are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. High cooking temperatures also create harmful trans-fatty acids, or "trans-fats."

Trans fats prevent the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids and may lead to a number of serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and immune system disorders.

Top foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA):
FoodServing grams
Salmon, Atlantic(half fillet, grilled)3.89
Mackerel, Pacific(1 fillet, grilled)3.25
Sardine oil(1 tablespoon)2.83
Salmon, Chinook(half fillet, grilled)2.68
Cod liver oil(1 tablespoon)2.43
Salmon, pink(half fillet, grilled)1.6
Herring oil(1 tablespoon)1.43
Sardines, canned in oil(approx. 3 ounces)0.90
White tuna, canned in water(approx. 3 ounces)0.73

Source: National Agriculture Library, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

In summary

  • Use cooking oils that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as coconut or olive oil, which have much lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Eat plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid hydrogenated oils (found in snacks such as crisps) and margarine.
  • Avoid fried foods and foods containing trans fats (fast food, frozen pies, pizzas, cakes, doughnuts, biscuits, chocolate, cereals).
  • Avoid cooking at high temperatures with olive oil, use coconut oil or coconut butter for roasting.
  • Limit your consumption of red meat.