Eating your Omega-3s

pHion Balance  |  0 Comment

You saw a news segment about it a few months ago. You read about them in your favorite fitness mag last week. And just yesterday, your doctor suggested adding fish oil to your diet for better health. If it seems like you’re hearing more and more about omega-3s, and more often, it’s not your imagination. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids (EFAs) that the body needs for good health, but the body cannot manufacture them. Fortunately, you can get the amount you need through a variety of healthy foods and even supplements.

There are several types of omega-3s including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic (ALA). Fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, grains, beans, greens, and healthy oils are the best dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Although mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts offer the highest number of grams per serving, a variety of other foods on the list can help you obtain the amount recommended by healthcare professionals.

Healthy individuals should consume at least one rich source of omega-3 fatty acids each day or between one and two grams per day. If you don’t eat omega-3 rich foods such as fish and flaxseeds, doctors recommend taking an omega-3 supplement of at least 500 mg daily. If you have a heart condition or have had a heart attack, your doctor may recommend double the amount.

For your reference, specific dietary sources of omega-3s include: Mackerel, Sardines, Herring, Salmon, Swordfish, Bluefish, Cod, Crab, Scallops, Tuna, Lobster, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pecans, Soybeans, Tofu, Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Flaxseed Oil, Canola Oil, Walnut Oil and Olive Oil.      

Walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil contain alpha-linolenic (ALA), while fish contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA have been shown to significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels. Low to normal triglyceride (fat) levels is safe, while high triglyceride levels raise your risk of heart disease. ALA may not be as beneficial as DHA and EPA, but the body can convert it to DHA and EPA, although in minimal amounts.

In addition to contributing to better heart health, omega-3s fight inflammation and they may help alleviate symptoms associated with depression and rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) even suggests that the omega-3s found in fish oil might enhance cognitive performance in healthy people by boosting their working memory. Now there’s an argument for eating your omega-3s!

Here's to your wellness,


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