Eating certain nutrients helps you to stay healthy. Sources of omega-3 are a good example; include them in your diet!
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly called omega-3s, are gaining media attention. Yet, few people can accurately describe their exact function and benefits on health! Omega-3 is one of the fatty acids belonging to the larger category of lipids. They are essential to the body’s cells and crucial to several processes in the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids are described as “healthy fats”.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
ALA is an essential fatty acid that the body is unable to produce. Therefore, you must include it in your diet. However, the body can produce very small amounts of EPA and DHA from ALA. So, it is crucial to eat DHA and EPA-rich foods as well.
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, are known for their numerous positive effects on cardiovascular health.
- They lower bad cholesterol.
- They increase good cholesterol.
- They prevent the formation of blood clots that can lead to the blockage of certain blood vessels.
- They have a protective and anti-inflammatory effect on artery walls.
- They lower blood pressure.
- They stabilize your heart rate.
In addition to their effect on cardiovascular health, they are also known to improve:
- memory, and
Based on certain studies, they may also have positive effects in the following areas:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
- the prevention of certain cancers
Fish on the menu
In order to reap all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, it is recommended to eat at least 150 grams of fish per week, which corresponds to one portion twice a week. This will provide 0.3 to 0.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day. The fish that have a high omega-3 content are fatty coldwater ocean fish, such as:
- tuna, and
Cod, pollock, flounder, shrimp, mussels, scallops, canned tuna, sardines, rainbow trout and smelt are among the less fatty fish and seafood that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish contains as much protein as meat. It generally contains few calories and also contains a number of essential minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and iodine. Is it important to you to stay healthy? Adopt healthy eating habits and eat fish regularly!
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Fish is not one of your favourite foods? Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids are found in several other foods. A particular type of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, comes from a plant-based source. Flaxseed, soybean, or canola oils, walnuts, flaxseed and soybeans are a good source of this type of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, a number of foods are now enriched with omega-3 fatty acids such as milk, eggs, margarine, yogurt and bread.
Omega-3 supplements are also available on the market. Their use is generally considered to be beneficial and safe. However, these supplements can cause certain adverse effects such as nausea, stomach aches, eructation (belching) or bad breath. Taking them with food minimizes this unpleasantness. Additionally, they may not be suitable for people taking certain blood thinners. Speak to your pharmacist in order to make an informed choice.
There are plenty of reasons to include fish and other sources of omega-3! Now, it’s up to you to decide how to include them in your diet. Use canola or soybean oil more often to cook foods. Add ground flaxseed or walnuts to yogurt, in a muffin mix or in breakfast cereal. Use your imagination to the benefit of your health!