Plant Based Healthy Fats: Polyunsaturated Fats

Omegas pic
Seeds are a great source of plant-based polyunsaturated fats.

Omega-3’s have long been known for their health benefits. The most commonly known source for omega-3’s are oily fish however, there are lots plant-based sources of these healthy fatty acids too! Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) and walnuts and their oils are all great sources of ALA (alpha linoleic acid – which is the plant-based version of omega-3’s).

Omega-3’s are classed as polyunsaturated fatty acids, and these play a big role in our bodies’ make up and function. These fatty acids have functional roles in our eyes and brains, aiding brain development in children and lifelong brain function from mindset and emotion to cognitive activity. Omega-3s are also integrated in our bodies’ membrane network, important as membranes provide the structure or lining for all our cells and organs.

Omega-3’s are also anti-inflammatory, meaning they help to reduce the inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation doesn’t just happen when we roll our ankle, our bodies are constantly fighting inflammation caused by a number of environmental and lifestyle factors such as toxins and pollution, poor diet or stress. Reducing the overall or chronic (long term) inflammation in our bodies is important in reducing our risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

Omega-3’s isn’t the only beneficial polyunsaturated fat, there’s also omega-6! Omega-6 differs slightly from omega-3 in it’s structure, which also means that it plays a slightly different role in our bodies. Omega-6 plays an important role in the growth and synthesis of some of our hormones, as well as having a positive effect on our blood cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity. Dietary sources of omega-6’s include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, good quality rapeseed, sunflower, soybean and canola oils.

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