By Detria Branch M.S.
The wonderful thing about women is that we come in all shapes, sizes, colors and curves! Interestingly, the human species tends to select for what is preferred to enhance survival of our species. Thank you Natural Selection!
I have always been underweight. Not the underweight where you are skinny but still super curvy, because we had those girls in high school, but just the skinny narrow waist and narrow hips type. Personally, I never understood why my partner kept saying how thrilled he would be to see more fat on my hips. And once we had our baby he was super excited. Not just about the birth of our son, but my new curves. Of course, once I started nursing whatever hip fat I had gained, and had previously, all but disappeared… I was a little disappointed myself, but breastfeeding is the quick weight loss secret! Then COVID-19 came, my step count was cut in half and up when that hip fat!
Through school I already knew there were health benefits involved with having fat in the hips and thigh region for women. And I already knew that there’s a special fat stored in this area that’s great for babies. But when researching more regarding this, I came across the article Eternal Curves from the Psychology Today, July 2012 issue that really helped fill in that missing gap.
This article helped reveal why men tend to prefer women with more body fat, especially in the hips and thighs. It explores male and female psychology, making some comparisons about the modern woman (present vs. past) versus supermodel versus playmate, while also providing more than a few good points about the nutritional value of having healthy body fat containing the omega-3 known as DHA!
Hip fat contains lots of DHA. This is the fat we get pre-formed when consuming fish three times a week, especially sardines, or if we are eating a combination of plant foods and nutrients such as vitamin C, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium (Tsoukalas, 2019). These nutrients help our bodies convert plant-based fats from flax and hemp into brain building & brain boosting DHA. To maximize the amount of DHA from the food you eat, choose already preformed DHA, instead of relying on omega-3 ALA from flax, to make EPA and DHA. While each of these omega-3 fats have their benefits, the conversion rate from ALA to EPA and DHA is significantly low, between 0 – 9% according to nutritional psychiatrist, Dr. Georgia Ede’s blog on Why Humans Need Fat of diagnosis:Diet.
Need to Increase Your DHA Consumption?
Below is a graphic that you can print out and put on your fridge, courtesy of MyFoodData. Their blog post on Foods High in Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is another great resource.
Omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps support the nervous system and brain development for baby-to-be and mommy-to-be. High DHA levels have been shown to be supportive in reducing preterm births and enhancing fetal brain size. This is especially important for certain ethnic groups, such as African-American and Hispanic women, where preterm labor rates are higher. Plus, when you’ve got a fatter brain it could make you smarter. High DHA levels are correlated with enhanced cognition, focus, and memory! For more information, see our blog post about the best seafood sources of DHA here.
So if you’ve been concerned about your hip fat, don’t be– it’s a good thing! The Psychology Today article revealed that men may intuitively select curvier women because children-to-be tend to be smarter and the women tend to be smarter too! This is just one of the benefits of DHA and definitely a great trait for the survival of our species! If you don’t happen to live right next to the ocean so you can eat fish often or you happen to be on the skinny side, don’t fret you can always consume more grass fed meat, grass fed butter, omega-3 eggs and grass milk. (Meat, butter and milk from grass-fed cows have an improved fatty acid profile, including higher levels of omega-3s.)
Of course, all are encouraged to supplement a minimum of 300 mg (American Pregnancy Association) to 800mg (Yelland, 2016) of DHA to bump up your good healthy omegas at least 4 months prior to getting pregnant, during nursing and after so you’ll have that fat in storage when it’s time to support perinatal mood and baby-to-be’s brain development and health. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or have an allergy, you can still benefit thanks to fish-free algal oil! Below is a list of resources to help you on the road to finding the right fit!
DHA Supplement Options:
Note: Check with your health care provider before starting a nutrition supplement.
- Nature’s Way Ultra Pure Omega3 Prenatal Ginger (480 mg DHA + 205 mg EPA per 2 soft gels). This is a great option if you also have morning sickness!
- Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA (480 mg DHA + 205 mg EPA per 2 soft gels)
- Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Prenatal DHA (600 mg DHA + 120 mg EPA per 2 soft gels)
- Nature’s Way NutraVege (300 mg DHA + 150 mg EPA per 2 soft gels)
- Nature’s Way NutraVege Extra Strength (600 mg DHA + 300 mg EPA per 1 teaspoon)
- Nordic Naturals Algae Omega (360 mg DHA + 195 mg EPA per 2 soft gels)
- Ora Vegan Omega-3 (600 mg DHA per 12 sprays)
- Vegetology Opti3 (500 mg DHA + 300 mg EPA + 200 IUs Vit D per 2 soft gels)
For More Info on this Topic:
- “Baby Brain” is Real–Try These Tips to Help Your Brain Work Better During Pregnancy https://eatrightmama.com/baby-brain-foods-habits-to-help/
- Omega3 Fatty Acids https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
- Prenatal DHA Test to learn your specific DHA level. https://omegaquant.com/prenatal-dha-test/
- Seafood Sources of DHA for Pregnancy https://eatrightmama.com/seafood-sources-of-dha-for-pregnancy/
- What is a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet? https://eatrightmama.com/healthy-breastfeeding-diet/
Eternal Curves. Retrieved from:
Foods High in Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Retrieved from: https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/foods-high-in–DHA.php
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: FAQs. Retrieved from: https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fatty-acids-faqs/
Tsoukalas, D., Alegakis, A. K., Fragkiadaki, P., Papakonstantinou, E., Tsilimidos, G., Geraci, F., Sarandi, E., Nikitovic, D., Spandidos, D. A., & Tsatsakis, A. (2019). Application of metabolomics part II: Focus on fatty acids and their metabolites in healthy adults. International journal of molecular medicine, 43(1), 233–242. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2018.3989
Why Humans Need Fat. Retrieved from: https://www.diagnosisdiet.com/full-article/fats
Yelland, L. N., Gajewski, B. J., Colombo, J., Gibson, R. A., Makrides, M., & Carlson, S. E. (2016). Predicting the effect of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation to reduce early preterm birth in Australia and the United States using results of within country randomized controlled trials. Prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids, 112, 44–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2016.08.007
About the Author
Detria Branch has a Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition and is a Registered Health and Nutrition Counselor as well as a dietetic intern through Gulf Coast Dietetic Internship. She lives in the Sun City of El Paso, Texas with her guy, 5 ½ year old son and fluffy kitty. She loves how nutrition is at the foundation of all health and is on a mission to make personalized nutrition accessible so that our men, women and children can thrive mentally, physically and spiritually.
Peter Harris says
Fascinating article, but I disagree with the sources of Omega 3.
You certainly won’t get any, or at best, very little omega-3 from salmon, which is commercially grown in intensive aquaculture farms.
Peter, thanks for your thoughtful comment and link to the BBC article! It’s true that omega-3’s have declined in farmed salmon but it’s still one of the best and affordable sources of omega-3s, as the BBC article states:
“Prof Tocher stressed that farmed salmon was still one of the richest sources of beneficial fish oils and he urged people who buy farmed salmon for its potential health benefits to continue doing so.
“Farmed salmon is just about the best way of getting omega-3 in our diet. All the other fish are much lower than mid-Atlantic salmon, including wild salmon,” he said.