The ABC’s of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential type of fat that has been found to have many different health benefits. Research shows that Omega-3s may be beneficial in regulating:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
The human body only makes small amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids – therefore, we glean them from the plants and animals in our diet. The U.S. National Institute of Health recommends that people consume 2% of their daily calories from Omega-3s, which equals about 2 grams or 2,000mg of Omega-3s in a 2,000 calorie diet.
Omega-3s in Whole Foods
Not all foods are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. It is important that people seek out whole foods that contain high levels of Omega-3s and make them a part of their diet. EPA and DHA are types of Omega-3 fatty acids that are commonly found in certain fish, while ALA is another Omega-3 that can be found in plants.
When looking for Omega-3 fatty acids, look towards the water! Fish is one of the main sources of the essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Some of the fish that have the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Tuna (fresh)
Plant sources of Omega-3s include:
- Flax seed and flaxseed oil
- Soy foods (e.g. tofu, edamame, soy milk)
- English walnuts
- Canola oil
- Kale and spinach
- Winter squash
- Kidney beans
There are also many foods that are now being fortified with Omega-3s such as cereals, waffles and juices; and there are also some specialty eggs that are fortified with Omega-3s as well. But again, decreasing consumption of processed foods and increasing your consumption of whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is best for a balanced diet.
While fortified foods are available as processed foods on the supermarket shelves, the best way to eat your in Omega-3s is to eat whole foods from the source.