Some things you just know are good for you. Like sleeping more, sitting less and answering no to the question “would you like bacon with that?”. Add to that list, omega-3s. But why? And what exactly are they?

Omega‑3s are essential fats — your body can’t make them, so you need them in your diet. Luckily, your supermarket is loaded with foods boasting them.

Science lesson alert – there are three main omega‑3s:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Alpha‑linolenic acid (ALA)

EPA and DHA are found in fish (especially fatty fish like, salmon, tuna and trout) and shellfish (including crab, mussels and oysters).

Meanwhile, ALA is found in plant sources, like nuts and seeds. Hello chia and flax.

Yes, omega‑3s are a nutrition all-star – playing a role in muscle activity, blood clotting, fertility and growth. Not only does your body need these fats to function, but they also deliver some big health benefits. Here goes…

How can I benefit?

Fats that actually help you lose fat? Researchers at Kyoto University found that fish oil activates receptors in the digestive tract, fires up the sympathetic nervous system and transforms fat‑storing cells into fat‑burning cells. Now that’s a fat that works for you.

Even more good news, a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that regular fish consumption may have a positive impact on sleep and daily functioning. Yes, that salmon just might come with a side of snooze.

Plus, research published in Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed regular consumption during pregnancy is important to support optimal brain growth and development, as well as eyesight for growing bubs.

What are the best sources and how much do I need?

The World Health Organization recommends consuming 0.3‑0.5 grams of EPA and DHA daily.

Fish and seafood are the main sources. Oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, swordfish are particularly super sources containing >2000mg of omega‑3s per 150g serve. Bonus: these slippery suckers also pack a punch with other essential nutrients like zinc, iron and protein. Reason to splash out on that seafood platter for two next date night.

Want to optimise your omega-3 intake? Aim to eat oily fish two times per week. Cue health and happiness.

Dr Suzanne Pearson PhD, MNutrDiet, APD, BSc (Hons) is the Global Scientific & Medical Affairs Manager at Swisse Wellness.