From improving cognitive performance to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, the purported health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been well documented in recent years. As consumers become more aware of the health benefits they have to offer, the pressure is on to find a sustainable source of these fatty acids to meet the ever-increasing demand.
Thought for Food Blog
Post from guest blogger, Jenny Arthur BA (Hons) MSc RNutr, Nutrition and Marketing Consultant.
I like to keep an eye on what is happening in the Nordic countries as they are a good barometer of potential future activity in the UK.
The Nordic countries review their dietary guidelines every eight years, through the Nordic Co-operation, involving Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Aland. This is one of the world's most extensive regional collaborations and not an easy task I imagine!
Many people, particularly those concerned with weight loss or heart disease, are fearful of fats. Low fat diets – which cut down drastically on all types of fat regularly eaten – run a risk of creating the condition for mental distress.
Fats are very important with regard to emotional and mental health, with low levels in the diet being associated with symptoms that range from anxiety and depression to hyperactivity and schizophrenia. Furthermore, in an editorial in The British Journal of Psychiatry, Malcolm Garland explained:
‘...the essential fatty acids (EFAs) are LC-PUFAs obtained exclusively through diet…comprise 15–30% of the brain’s dry weight.’
One of the leading eating plans for the past 20 years, the Mediterranean diet, is facing competition from the ‘Nordic diet’, which, scientists are discovering, could be significantly healthier.
The research findings have generated excitement among many nutrition experts in the UK, as the British climate is more suited to producing the kinds of foods found in Scandinavia than it is to growing the sun-ripened foods of the Mediterranean.
One of the major challenges associated with an ageing global population is the increasing incidence of age-associated cognitive decline, which has significant implications for an individual's ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life.
In stark economic terms the cost of ageing reflects decreased productivity and engagement with the workforce. The maintenance of brain health underpinning undamaged cognition is a key factor to maintaining a positive, engaged, and productive lifestyle.
In light of this, the role of diet, including supplementation with nutritional and even pharmacological interventions capable of positively affecting the neurocognitive changes that occur with age constitute vital areas of research.