Did you know your brain is mostly made up of fat?
‣ Approximately 60% of the brain is fat
‣ That’s why eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats) is key for optimal cognitive function and performance
So what’s the link between omega-3s and mental health?
‣ Mood disorders like depression and anxiety are associated with higher rates of inflammation
‣ Research studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety to improve mental health.
One of the questions my patients ask me is whether they should take fish oil supplements or get their omega-3s from food.
Compared to supplements, omega-3 rich foods have a higher potency, and are more easily absorbed by the body.
This is why I encourage using a food first approach, then adding supplements when necessary depending on an individual’s need for omega-3s.
Which foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids?
✓ Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies
✓ Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds
✓ Others: avocados, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Try eating at least one serving of omega-3 rich foods daily to help improve your mental health.
For example: add 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds to your oats for breakfast, or eat a handful of nuts as a healthy snack between meals.
As for omega-3 supplements, they come in two main forms:
‣ EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
✓ EPA supplements are typically found in plant foods (such as flaxseed oil)
✓ DHA is typically found in animal foods (such as fish oil)
If you’re considering taking a supplement, make sure to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine what type, ratio, and dose of omega-3 supplement is right for you.
You can also work with me one-on-one to learn how to optimize your mental health with nutrition.
Click here to schedule a free 20-minute call with our team to learn more about our nutritional psychiatry services.
Ailar Poormoghaddam & The Pacific Integrative Psychiatry Team