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Health Canada recommends that we consume fewer saturated fats and more unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.
There are three major types of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats: ALA (alpha linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). ALA is an “essential nutrient” because our bodies cannot make it and therefore we need to get it from food. All three types are necessary for good health.
Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats are found in many foods. Good sources of ALA are ground flaxseeds, walnuts, and flax, canola, soybean oils and food products that contain these oils. Fatty fish such as trout, tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring are all good sources of DHA and EPA. As well, our bodies are able to make a limited amount of DHA and EPA from ALA.
The latest recommendation from the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation is that we consume fish 2 – 3 times a week as the best way to increase our intake of omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. Consuming foods rich in ALA could further increase omega 3 intake.
We should watch our portion sizes of these fats because Health Canada recommends that our total fat intake for the day be no more than 30% of our total daily calories. Therefore, we should aim for no more than 2 tsp of added fats/oils/dressings at a meal and keep our portions of fish to around 4 oz (ounces) or approximately 100 g (grams).
Tip: 4 oz is about the size of a woman’s palm and thickness of the pinky finger.