This post was written by Ruby Yang, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition.
In addition to antioxidants, omega-3 is also an important part of the anti-inflammatory diet. Studies have associated omega-3 fatty acids with lower levels of inflammation, potentially reducing skin problems.
There are three types of omega- 3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fatty acid that cannot be produced by the body so we need to get it through food sources. ALA can be converted to make DHA and EPA, however, this conversion is very limited so we need to get DHA and EPA through food sources as well. EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish, while ALA is found in plants.
Studies have evaluated fish oil supplements for reducing skin problems associated with chronic inflammation, but there is still no convincing evidence for the recommendation of these supplements due to its unknown long-term side-effects associated with mega-dosing.
Therefore, the best way to get enough omega-3 is by eating 2 servings of fatty fish per week (2.5oz or 75g is one serving). An easy way to remember the different types of fish that are good omega-3 sources and also low in mercury content is through the acronym SMASHT.
If you don’t like eating fish, don’t worry, there are some great plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids including ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oils, chia seeds, hemp hearts and walnuts.