There has been a lot of recent discussion about the addition of omega 3/6/9 supplements and fish oil and flaxseed oil to help promote a healthy diet. Omega-3 fats have been linked to helping prevent a wide range of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, diseases of the eye and brain, cancer, allergy, asthma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, lupus, obesity, increasing bone health and periodontal disease.

There are different dietary fats that play an important role to our health including saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats come from meat and dairy and have been associated with reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats include plant-derived oils containing omega-9 fats. Polyunsaturated fats include linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linoleic-acid (ALA), which contain essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the body, thus they must be consumed.

ALA and LA fatty acids have a long chain of fatty acid derivatives consisting of EPA, DHA and AA, which also play an important role in the body. EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood and fish oils sources, and can result in improvements in periodontal health by reducing gingival plaque index, sulcus bleeding index, pocket depth and clinical attachment loss following scaling and root planning. In addition, EPA and DHA can also play an important role for overall health, including cardiovascular health.

On a study conducted to determine the impact of DHA on periodontal disease, it was found that higher consumption of DHA (>40mg/day) can reduce periodontal disease by 22%.Those with the lowest intakes of DHA had 1.5 times more periodontal disease events, which was defined as the number of teeth with periodontal disease progression over 5 years. Overall preliminary results from clinical trials are promising but further studies are required in order to confirm these findings.

The last update regarding recommendations for fat intake are still being developed and references set by the Institute of Medicine and used by Health Canada is the best guide. The recommendation of EPA and DHA intake is still unknown by for cardiovascular health, it is recommended a minimum of 2 servings of fish per week. For ALA intake, it is recommended small amounts of unsaturated oils approximately 2-3 tablespoons be used each day for cooking. Finally,a healthy diet can include saturated fat as long as polyunsaturated fats are also consumed.