Eating certain nutrients helps you to stay healthy. Sources of omega-3 are a good example; include them in your diet!
What are omega-3s?
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-3s therefore are fatty acids, which are part of to the larger family of lipids. These are essential to the body's cells and to the proper functioning of several processes taking place in the body. Omega-3s are referred to as "good fats".
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA);
- docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA);
- eicosapentaneoic fatty acid (EPA).
ALA is an essential fatty acid that the body is unable to produce. You should therefore include it in your diet. On the other hand, the body can make very small amounts of DHA and EPA from ALA. It is thus 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 levels.
- They increase the level of 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 the heart rate.
In addition to their effects on cardiovascular health, they are also known to improve:
- memory, and;
According to some studies, they may also have positive effects in the following areas:
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- 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 you with 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. Are you concerned about your health? Adopt healthy eating habits and add fish to your menu regularly!
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Fish is not one of your favorite foods? Fortunately, omega-3s can be found in many 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. In addition, many 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 beneficial and safe. However, these supplements may cause some side effects such as nausea, stomach aches, eructation (belching) or bad breath. Taking them with food minimizes these inconveniences. Also, they may not be suitable for people using certain blood-thinning medications. Consult your pharmacist to make an informed choice.
There are plenty of reasons to include fish and other sources of omega-3 in your meals! Now, it's up to you to figure out how to make them a bigger part of your eating routine. Use canola or soybean oil more often to cook food. Add ground flaxseed or walnuts to yogurt, muffin mixes or breakfast cereals. Use your imagination to the benefit of your health!