Omega-3s, Please


Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish such as salmon and albacore tuna, offer a sea of health benefits that include reducing the risk of heart attacks, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

The string of letters it takes to describe types of omega-3 fatty acids – from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are long enough to make your head swim. But it’s worth taking a quick dive into the health benefits of these unsaturated fatty acids, since loading up your shopping cart with foods and supplements high in omega-3 fats may be just what the doctor ordered.

Studies show that the amounts of EPA and DHA contained in fish or fish oil supplements may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, reduce the risk of dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, slow down the buildup of plaque that leads to hardening of the arteries, and reduce the risk of strokes in people with heart disease.

The research suggests improvements for people with joint tenderness, and shows a possible link between omega-3 fatty acids and a lowered risk of developing breast, colon or prostate cancer.

Experts also see potential for fish oil to improve your impulse control and mood, and early findings even suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may improve symptoms of depression and decrease suicidal behavior.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish – particularly fatty fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, mackerel, sardines and herring – at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and, unlike meat products, doesn’t contain high saturated fat.

Whether you add fish oil to your regimen of dietary supplements or check out the daily specials in the grocery store’s fish display, omega-3 fatty acids bring you some of Mother Nature’s best under-the-sea benefits. Store shelves are also stocked with a variety of fish oil supplements designed to bring you the range of benefits that come with adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids derived from plant sources such as walnuts, canola, soybeans, flaxseed and tofu, contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). This type of fatty acid can also offer health benefits.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
Here are just some of the wonderful foods that can benefit your body and mind. Make a point to start adding these into your diet and your body will be happy you did!

serving size: 1⁄4 cup
calories: 163.5
daily value: 94.6%
nutrient density: 10.4
excellent source

serving size: 4 ounces
calories: 261.9
daily value: 87.1%
nutrient density: 6
excellent source

cauliflower (boiled)
serving size: 1 cup
calories: 28.5
daily value: 8.8%
nutrient density: 5.5
very good source

broccoli (steamed)
serving size: 1 cup
calories: 43.7
daily value: 8.3%
nutrient density: 3.4
very good source

What is nutrient density?
The correlation between nutrients and calories is called nutrient density. The more nutrients or amount of nutrients per calorie, the better.

What is the daily value?
This is the amount of nutrients you should receive per day. For example, if you receive 75% or more of your daily value or a nutrient density of 7.6 or more from a particular food, it is ranked as an “excellent” food source. Food with a daily value of 50% or more or a density of 3.4 or better is ranked as a “very good” healthy food.