You’d be forgiven for wondering what’s with all the hype about omega-3 and what on earth is it exactly? Well, in most nutrition and health circles it really is a god-like nutrient. That’s because omega-3s are a group of essential fats that we need for normal metabolism and brain health.
Because our bodies can’t make omega-3s, we have to consume them from food. Scientists are interested in omega-3s because they have anti-inflammatory effects, and may protect against heart disease, depression and inflammatory conditions, like psoriasis.
What do we know about omega-3 and psoriasis?
Psoriasis flare ups are triggered by the immune system, where the body over produces the hormones that cause inflammation and can activate redness, itching, swelling along with the overgrowth of skin cells. Scientists have found that omega-3 fats can slow down the release of these inflammatory hormones.
Most people typically eat more omega-6 fats found in everyday foods like vegetable oils, sunflower oil, soya bean oil, sesame and corn oils, meat, dairy and eggs. Omega-6 fats are important for the structure of our cells, but if eaten in excess they can produce pro-inflammatory hormones. It’s common for people with psoriasis to have a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the body, so boosting omega-3 may help to balance things out and calm symptoms.
There’s no two ways about it — the best source of omega-3 is oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring because they have the most direct health benefits. But good news for veggies, omega-3s are found in plant foods too, particularly in flax, chia seeds and walnuts. Just make sure to eat them regularly as they are rapidly absorbed and are more likely to be used as an energy source.
Top 10 ways to up your omega-3
- Meat free Mondays: get everyone involved, these anti-inflammatory salmon burgers are a family favourite. Salmon is a fatty fish, packed full of high quality omega-3s and protein. Serve with sweet potato wedges for skin beneficial beta-carotene and a leafy green salad.
- Go for grass fed meat: animals fed with grain tend to contain more omega-6, in the UK you can usually count on lamb for a healthy omega profile.
- In plants: omega-3 is found in the shorter form of alpha linolenic acid (ALAs), include a daily helping to keep your levels topped up. Breakfast is easy, add a tbsp of ground or soaked flaxseed to your porridge or granola in the morning.
- Go nuts! Nuts combine omega-3 and omega-6 but walnuts have more omega-3. Sprinkle liberally to add crunch to any meal or a simple handful make a great snack. Feeling adventurous? Whizz in a high speed blender with a splash of walnut oil, a sprinkle of salt and cinnamon for a delicious anti-inflammatory nut butter.
- Chia seed pudding: works for breakfast, dessert or a sweet snack. Chia seeds are a source of omega-3 and digestion loving fibre. One of our favourites is to mix with oats and soak overnight in milk or yoghurt, and add berries for an antioxidant boost for breakfast on the go. For dessert, how about this exotic treat?
- For salads: replace olive oil with walnut or flaxseed oil to boost your omega-3 intake – check out our easy anti-inflammatory dressing recipe.
- Go wild: if you are going to increase your fish intake, try to choose wild salmon over farmed, as the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in farmed fish may be twice as high.
- Impress your friends: with this double helping of omega-3, our tuna steak with flaxseed crust ticks all the boxes.
- A drizzle of flaxseed oil: gives this houmous inflammation fighting power and packs some plant protein into your lunch. Best of all—it’s really easy!
- Bread with a boost: try healthy home baking with our anti-inflammatory loaf and top with avocado for extra skin health benefits.
For personal recommendations and advice based on your health goals download the TREAT app.