It seems like these days, we are obsessed with fat. We want to eat low-fat foods, we try to reduce saturated fat intake and we exercise to burn fat. Did you know that fat is actually important in our diet and our eyesight would suffer if we did not have enough fat?
Essential Fatty Acids
Fat is made out of smaller building blocks called fatty acids. These components are essential for proper functioning of cells, nerves, muscles and organs. Fatty acids also play a role in the regulation of blood pressure, pulse and blood coagulation. Certain fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids because our body cannot produce them so we must obtain them from our food.
One type of essential fatty acid is called omega-3 fatty acid. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to eye health. We need omega-3 fatty acids from birth through adulthood. Breast milk contains omega-3 fatty acids, and many brands of formula are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids to help vision development. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help protect adults from conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and dry eye syndrome.
How to Increase Omega-3 Intake
Since omega-3 fatty acids have to be obtained from food, what foods offer the most benefit? Fish is one of the very best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially cold water fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and tuna. The fish with the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids is Atlantic salmon with 3.89 grams per serving. Because farmed fish often have higher levels of pollutants and chemicals, try to purchase wild-caught fish instead. If you are not a fish lover, you can purchase fish oil supplements which provide the essential fatty acid in a different form. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, dark leafy greens, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Eating fish two times per week or taking a fish oil supplement will help boost your levels of omega-3 fatty acids. There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance for omega-3 fatty acids yet, but the American Heart Association recommends daily intakes of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids ranging from 0.5 grams to 1.8 grams can significantly reduce the risk for cardiac arrest. Add some more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet and you will help prevent heart disease and eye disease (Source: All About Vision).