You’d have to be living under a rock not to realize the value of omega-3 foods in your diet plan. More and more information is coming to light daily that highlights the value of these essential fats in today’s diet.
Omega-3 fats are essential fats, meaning the body cannot produce them on its own like it can certain other non-essential nutrients in times of need. If you don’t take them in from an outside source, you won’t be getting them at all and deficiency will ensue.
Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for a wide variety of reasons. Some benefits these fats have to offer include:
· Reduced inflammation in the body – those who are consuming insufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may find they experience more systemic inflammation. This can put them at risk for a number of different diseases as well as general pain1.
· Lowered risk factors for heart disease and/or high cholesterol. The right fats in your diet help combat heart disease while the wrong fats encourage it2. Change your fatty acid profile and you’ll see this working in your life.
· Digestive issues. Lack of proper fat intake can lead to digestive disorders that can make mealtimes feel like a necessary evil. When you’re eating enough omega-3 fatty acids, your body absorbs food better that you take in and puts it to use almost immediately. They can also help to keep diseases such as Crohn’s disease at bay3. Furthermore, you’ll experience fewer issues related to bloating and stomach upset. To take this one step further, also ensure that you’re picking up a digestive product such as MassZymes, which will provide all the digestive enzymes required to break down the foods you’re eating.
· Allergy relief4. It’s now been noted that many who are including more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet plan are less likely to suffer from the seasonal allergies they may have worked so hard before to avoid.
· Arthritis – lack of omega-3 fatty acids can cause arthritis issues to flare up not to mention make joint pain in general much more prominent in your life. Getting enough can help suppress joint pain issues and help you get back to your active lifestyle5.
· Mental disorders such as depression – what you eat can influence your mind and this is a perfect example of this. Those who aren’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids into their diet are more likely so suffer from depression as well as other psychological illnesses. The protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been proven time and time again on combating depression6.
· Lack of optimal brain development and function. Another big reason to get more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is the lack of optimal brain development and function. Those who are deficient in this nutrient may not have the concentration and processing capacity as those who have more of it present in their diet on a regular basis.
· Improved insulin sensitivity levels7. Omega-3 fatty acids can help boost insulin sensitivity, which in turn can then lower your risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
· Enhanced skin appearance. You might think that what you eat only impacts what happens on the inside, but it can also really influence the way you look as well. Eating a healthy diet can help your skin radiate and may also clear up certain skin disorders as well.
This is really just scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the many benefits that eating enough omega-3 fatty acids present. If you have a health ailment of any kind, there’s a good chance that getting more omega-3 fatty acids can help you get past it.
So this now begs the question – where you should be getting omega-3 fatty acids from? While there are a number of sources in the diet that provide this nutrient, most people will need to go out of their way to ensure they get them in. They aren’t found in significant concentrations in most everyday foods we eat such as chicken, rice, or lettuce, therefore we need to think about including certain items in our meal plan.
Let’s walk through the main sources of omega-3 fatty acids so you know precisely which foods to focus on.
You might think that salmon is your best bet as far as getting omega-3 fatty acids in. While salmon does tend to be the nutrient that is most often touted as the ‘one’ to focus on, as it turns out, Atlantic Mackerel fish is actually a superior source.
Per one cup of cooked mackerel, you’ll take in nearly 7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which is nearly 200% of your total daily needs.
Because fat can be stored in the body, if you eat this fish three times per week, you’ll almost be covered for the week.
While it can be harder to find Atlantic Mackerel in the store, if you ever manage to do so, definitely do pick some up. It’s a delicious change of pace from the usual and will also give you this amazing nutrition.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
While not food per se, if you can get your hands on some omega-3 fatty acid supplements, either derived from fish oil or cod liver oil, this is often a great choice. It’s fast and easy to take and will give you the exact amount you require for dietary success in terms of getting your needs met with this nutrient.
The best recommendation is to take 4-6 capsules/grams per day, which should have you well covered. If you are eating some other foods that are mentioned here in this article, you may be able to cut back on how much supplementation you take in as you will be getting some derived from food as well.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements typically come from salmon fish oil as well as cod liver oil, both of which are good sources. Salmon oil will contain more total omega-3 fatty acids, however.
If you’re a vegetarian and looking for a way to get your fish oil needs met, don’t overlook the power of walnuts. Walnuts are a great food for keeping energy up, blood glucose levels stable, and for getting in some important omega-3 fatty acids.
Walnuts will also provide a small dose of protein, supplement by the nut, as well as a few grams of complex carbohydrates. Note that most of the carbs found in walnuts will come from fiber, so this is certainly not ranked as a higher carb food.
As such, it tends to work very well as food to eat if on a low carb diet plan.
Try adding walnuts to a tossed salad, in with baking you’re preparing, or simply eaten on their own as a quick snack on the go.
Another food that often gets overlooked in favor of other foods is the chia seed. Chia seeds, however, are chock-full of good nutrition – omega-3 fatty acids included. This seed also presents a nicely balanced nutritional profile, giving you some carbohydrates, proteins, as well as some dietary fat.
Chia seeds will provide 61% of your total omega-3 fatty acid needs per one tablespoon serving, so you can see how quickly this adds up.
They rank in just below walnuts in terms of their total omega-3 fatty acid content, however, will provide fewer calories per serving to get this level of good fats. If you’re watching your body weight, chia seeds, therefore, present a better solution.
Herring is another fish variety to check out if getting more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is a priority. Herring fish provides approximately 47% of your total fatty acid intake per 3 oz serving. So it’s pretty good overall to get your needs met. Serve your herring over some salad greens topped with walnuts and you’ll have your entire day’s requirements all met.
Herring is a fish variety that is also harder to come across and therefore can be a bit pricey, but well worth the extra cost to get it in.
Finally, we get to salmon. As you’ll notice here, there is a definite trend towards the fact that fish provide an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re looking to get your needs met, fish is a popular way to do it.
You do need to opt for fattier, higher-calorie varieties of fish, however, so keep that in mind. If you always choose white fish in an attempt to keep your body weight down, you really won’t be seeing many benefits as far as omega-3 consumption goes.
When choosing your salmon, always aim to choose wild-caught salmon as much as you possibly can. Farm-raised salmon simply doesn’t have the omega-3 fatty acid profile that wild-caught does, so it’s worth paying the additional money to get.
Back to seeds we go, this time to flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are a wonderful food that provides a balanced mix of nutrition just as chia seeds does. They’re low in net carbs because much of the carb content they contain actually comes from dietary fiber. So these are an ideal option for those who might be on a reduced carb diet plan.
Flaxseeds are also unique because they can serve as an egg replacement product in baking by mixing together flaxseeds with a bit of water. The end result will be a gel-like substance that will keep your baked goods baking up just as they should.
Therefore, if your someone who’s worried about potential cholesterol levels and therefore reluctant to eat too many eggs, flaxseeds may be your next best choice.
Flaxseeds have 39% of your total omega-3 fatty acid requirements per one tablespoon, so if you opt for two tablespoons, you’ll be nearly there.
While you don’t want to overdo albacore tuna too often as it is a fish variety that does tend to contain higher amounts of mercury, having it on occasion is perfectly acceptable and can help you meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs.
Albacore tuna is a high protein food and will contain an overall lower fat profile than salmon or herring. So it will probably be the choice that most people do make if they are trying to watch their body weight.
Albacore tuna can be purchased in steak form or you can also get it canned, both of which will provide around 35% of your total daily needs.
Another seed variety that you really don’t see people eating very often is hemp seeds. But yet, hemp seeds are another source of omega-3 fatty acids and are also going to be important for keeping your inflammation down and heart-healthy.
Hemp seeds are great when sprinkled onto cereal or yogurt or try adding them into smoothies. You’ll hardly notice them but the nutritional benefits will be there.
Per one tablespoon serving you’ll take in a quarter of your total omega-3 fatty acid requirements. So do this a couple of times a day and you’ll be well on your way.
Finally, while you won’t get many omega-3 fatty acids in eggs, you will still get some so it’s worth noting. Per half-cup egg yolks you’ll take in 6% of your total daily needs, so realistically this would be around 3-4 egg yolks. Most people won’t eat this much on any given day, however, it all adds up so don’t be so quick to toss that yolk.
Besides that, the yolk also contains other important nutrients found in the egg such as vitamin D, choline, as well as vitamin A. If you’re concerned over the fact that egg yolks may increase your cholesterol levels, limit yourself to just one or two per day unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
Truth be told, the consumption of processed sugar is far more detrimental to heart health and raising cholesterol levels than eating eggs is. So eat without too much worry and know that you’re getting good nutrition by doing so.
So there you have some key reasons why it’s important to get omega-3 fatty acids in your diet plan and then the best foods you can eat to do so. Fatty acids aren’t found in a great many foods so it’s time to start becoming more aware of the places you’re taking them in.
And if you read through this list and noted that you rarely ever eat any of these foods, know that it may be much better for you to just consider supplementation. Adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your diet will take the worry out of it since you can just take a few capsules and you’re set. For most people, it does tend to be the most reliable way to get them in.
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- Harris, William S., et al. “Omega-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease risk: clinical and mechanistic perspectives.” Atherosclerosis 197.1 (2008): 12-24.
- Turner, Dan, et al. “Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) for maintenance of remission in Crohn’s disease.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews 1 (2009).
- Klemens, C. M., D. R. Berman, and E. L. Mozurkewich. “The effect of perinatal omega‐3 fatty acid supplementation on inflammatory markers and allergic diseases: a systematic review.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 118.8 (2011): 916-925.
- Goldberg, Robert J., and Joel Katz. “A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain.” Pain 129.1-2 (2007): 210-223.
- Lin, Pao-Yen, and Kuan-Pin Su. “A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 68.7 (2007): 1056-1061.
- Lardinois, Claude K. “The role of omega 3 fatty acids on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity.” Medical hypotheses 24.3 (1987): 243-248.